be had

Idioms & Phrases

be had

  1. Be outwitted; also, be cheated, deceived. For example, This lawyer is a real shyster; you've been had, or I've become very cautious about these schemes; it's too costly to be had more than once. This expression employs the verb to have in the sense of getting someone in one's power or at a disadvantage. [Slang; early 1800s]

  2. Be bribed or influenced by dishonest means. For example, Our senator's incorruptible; he cannot be had. [Slang; early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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