under someone's thumb

Controlled or dominated by someone, as in He's been under his mother's thumb for years. The allusion in this metaphoric idiom is unclear, that is, why a thumb rather than a fist or some other anatomic part should symbolize control. [Mid-1700s]


Nearby words

  1. under one's skin,
  2. under pain of,
  3. under par,
  4. under secretary,
  5. under someone's spell,
  6. under someone's wing,
  7. under the aegis of,
  8. under the circumstances,
  9. under the counter,
  10. under the gun

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