pull someone's chain


1

Make someone speak out of turn, as in Who pulled your chain?—It's none of your business. [1920s]

2

Make someone angry, especially deliberately, as in Teenagers really know how to pull their parents' chains. [c. 1960] Both usages allude to the literal sense of chain-pulling, that is, “causing someone to do something, as though activated by a chain.”

QUIZZES

THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?

Did you ever collect all those state quarters? Put them to good use on this quiz about curious state monikers and the facts around them.
Question 1 of 8
Mississippi’s nickname comes from the magnificent trees that grow there. What is it?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.