" Caught by the short hairs (or short and curlies) "
Trapped by an opponent in a situation you can't escape.
I knew he had been stealing but he was the boss's son. If I said anything he would get me sacked - he had me by the short and curlies.
Where did it originate?:
, late 19th century. People assume this expression has a vulgar origin but, in fact, when coined the hairs referred to were those on the back of the neck.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken: