[Ads-l] again with the pocketses

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jul 15 00:25:13 UTC 2015

I was just realizing, watching a cop show (Murder in the First), that what makes "to be in X's pocket" really confusing is that there's a non-monetary use of the expression that has nothing (directly) to do with payoffs or bribes and everything to do with power and control.  Terry English, an SFPD homicide inspector played by Taye Diggs, is explaining to a lower-ranking and/or more naive detective the background behind the shooting of a detective that was first classified as a case of friendly fire, then suicide, and now murder: "Kaleb was in the Nazis' pocket so he gave them all of Navarro's personal information."  "In the pocket of" here as far as I can tell means "under the control of"; maybe blackmail was involved, maybe not (I'm not following too closely), but the contents of the metaphorical pocket don't seem to include literal money.  

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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