Green’s Dictionary of Slang

short and curlies n.

also curlies, curly fellas, curly hairs, short hair(s)

1. the pubic hair.

[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 280: I played with her bubbies, her great big white bubbies, / And down where the short hair grows.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 98: There was fucking in the bedroom, / Fucking on the stairs. / You could not see the carpet / For the come and curly hairs.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 58: curlies (Brit) pubic hairs.
[US]T.C. Bambara ‘Basement’ in Gorilla, My Love (1972) 142: He oughta be strung up by the short hairs.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 14: In my day a man farted like that would have his short hairs picked clean for a penalty before the breeze got past his pants.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 131: Pubes […] moustache, rug, short and curlies and short hairs, velvet, wig, wool.
[Ire]R. Doyle Commitments 79: He just ran his fingers through me curly fellas.
[UK]Guardian G2 3 Dec. 18: Shorts so short they almost show his short and curlies.
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 199: Noreen was likely for mashing up my short and curlies.

2. fig. use of sense 1; usu. in phr. have someone/something by the short and curlies

[UK]P. Terson Night to Make the Angels Weep (1967) I iv: We stalked you [...] We could of had your short hairs off and you’d never of known.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 224: They got you from the short curlies.

In phrases

have someone/something by the short and curlies (v.) (also have someone/something by the big brown ones, …by the curlies, by the short hair(s), the shorts, the wool, ...where the hair is crisp, …where the hair is short, ...where the wool is tight/worn off the top of his head) [the image of grasping the victim’s pubic hair]

1. to have someone at an extreme disadvantage, to control completely.

[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 207: By G—, you’ve gone and done it, old fellow, this time. You’ve got me where the ha’r is short!
[US]K. Munroe Golden Days of ’49 127: Do we hold over Bowers? You may just bet your sweet life we do! Have we got him where the wool’s all wore off the top of his head?
[US](con. 1860s) W. Goss Recollections of a Private 180: If they git us whar the hair is short this nip, it is all up with us.
[UK]Kipling ‘A Little Prep’ Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 192: I’ve got him by the short hairs!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 26/3: This banana trade is a big industry, and should be a white man’s industry; but Ah Fat and Ho Stink have got it by the wool, and are holding on with characteristic tenacity. The white man, in the present circumstances, cannot succeed, because the Chow has the trade cornered.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 69: Then you have me, so to speak, where the hair is crisp.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 578: have one where the hair is short, v. phr. To have one at a disadvantage. ‘As soon as he saw that I had him where the hair was short, he walked away.’.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 356: You certainly have him where the hair is short.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 82: If you had t’ squeal when he had you where the wool was tight, why in God’s name didn’t you let us know.
[SA]C.R. Prance Tante Rebella and her Friends (1951) 20: He felt that he had the London Government ‘by the short hairs’ as the settlers say.
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 118: ‘We had ’im by the short hair,’ the little one said.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 34: I liked her when she laughed. I knew then she had me by the short hairs. [Ibid.] 242: I’d have liked to take a poke at him but he had me by the wool.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 171: A man slowly coming to the realization that a woman’s hand had got him by the short hairs.
[US]M. Spillane Return of the Hood 85: They had me where the hair was short and were enjoying it.
[UK]C.D. Bryan P.S. Wilkinson 82: I got you by the short hairs.
[US](con. 1916) G. Swarthout Tin Lizzie Troop (1978) 47: Nearly had you where the hair’s short, huh, Stanley?
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 58: have one by the curlies to be in an awkward situation.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 161: At last I had Uncle Sidney by the short and curlies.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘A Losing Streak’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I’ve got him by the short n’ curlies.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 26: He could call his agent and let her work the angles, but they would mean she’d have him by the shorts forever and ever.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 318: Dennis had got Ally by the short and curlies all right.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 103: And he had poor Col’ by the big brown ones. If he said he did not know, he would be punished for being stupid.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 15: This Kilby’s got me by the bloody short-and-curlies.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 54: So we learn French or I’ll have you by the short and curlies.
[UK](con. 1950s) J. Byrne Slab Boys [film script] 116: Naw, what really got you by the short an’ curlies, Mister Carpets, wis the prospect of me [...] goin’ to the Art School, wasn’t it?
[US]J. Lansdale Rumble Tumble 230: Gambling, it’s my vice. You got me by the short hairs on that.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 31 July 53: She got me by the emotional short and curlies.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] short and curlies n. pubic hairs; i.e. to ‘have someone by the short and curlies’ is to have total power over that person since any on their part move to extricate themselves from the predicament would be certain to cause them immense pain.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 211: He’s got us by the short and curlies [...] I don’t see where there’s any other choice.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 134: She got ya by the short hairs, huh?
C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] ‘I’ve got him by the short and curlies’.

2. (Aus.) to know a subject extremely well.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Tramp Abroad 193: I’ve got it [the German language] where the hair’s short, I think.
[US]Discover IX 70: You have it [i.e. a theory] by the short and curlies.

3. (US) to annoy.

[US]N. Algren Somebody in Boots 181: What he didn’t like, what got him by the short hairs, was that crack about being a nigger.