Have someone by the balls



verb phrase

To have someone in a very perilous and painful position; have a firm grip on someone; HAVE someone BY THE SHORT HAIRS: I didn’t want to do it, but they had me by the balls (1940s+)
Have someone at one’s mercy, as in You have to pay up—they’ve got you by the balls. The balls here allude to the male genitals. [ ; early 1900s ]

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  • Have someone by the short hairs

    verb phrase To have someone in a painful and helpless situation; have absolute control over; HAVE someone BY THE BALLS: When life gets you by the short hairs, it doesn’t let go/ Someone nasty and ruthless has him by the short hairs/ You’re in no position to make deals. We got you by the curlies/ […]

  • Have someone coming and going

    verb phrase To have someone in an inescapable situation: What could I do? They had me coming and going (1903+)



  • Have someone for lunch

    verb phrase To defeat and destroy someone; clobber, EAT someone’s LUNCH: Then Ronald Reagan had Walter Mondale for lunch (1980s+)

  • Have someone over a barrel

    verb phrase To have someone in a helpless position: Okay, you got me over a barrel/ It may look like you got me over a barrel now (1930s+) verb phrase To have someone at a disadvantage or in an awkward position [1938+; apparently in allusion to the state of someone placed over a barrel to […]



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