Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

(get/have) (something) on (somebody)

get something on somebodyhave something on somebody
Meaning(s)
1) acquire or possess evidence against, or a particular advantage over somebody
  • How to MemorizePopularity MediumProfessional HighSocial
    • have years of experience on somebody
  • Analysis

    If you ‘have something on somebody’ it means you are in possession of information or evidence that could be used to gain an advantage over someone else or in order to threaten or blackmail someone. This is an informal phrase similar in meaning to ‘have dirt on someone’ or ‘have information on someone’. This expression is most commonly used when discussing evidence in relation to wrongdoing or crime, or when discussing an advantage a person or group holds over another. For that reason, it can be applied in either a social or professional setting. It is often said with a tone of defiance ('the police have nothing on me!'), arrogance ('I've got years of experience on you'), or a combination of both.

  • Social Examples (Basic)
    1. I'm not at all worried about the police investigation. They won't be able to get anything on me!
    2. Eddie has a couple of inches on me height-wise, but we're about the same weight.
  • Professional Examples (Basic)
    1. The fraud investigators have been trawling through the files in Sarah's office, trying to get enough on her to secure a prosecution. 
    2. Brian thinks he's favourite for the promotion, but he's forgetting that I have ten years worth of experience on him.
    3. I'm by far the best salesperson here. No one else in the company has got anything on me in that respect. 
  • Further Suggestions
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