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put the arm on

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Also, put the bite or touch on. Ask for or demand money, as in He's the youngest and he's always putting the arm on Dad. The first of these slangy usages, first recorded in 1939, alludes to a robber assaulting someone by yoking his arm around the victim's throat. The bite variant, first recorded in 1919, similarly alludes to a violent attack. The last, touch, has been slang for “theft” since the mid-1800s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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