pull someone's chain

Idioms & Phrases

pull someone's chain

  1. Make someone speak out of turn, as in Who pulled your chain?It's none of your business. [1920s]

  2. Make someone angry, especially deliberately, as in Teenagers really know how to pull their parents' chains. [c. 1960] Both usages allude to the literal sense of chain-pulling, that is, "causing someone to do something, as though activated by a chain."

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