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get the goods on (someone)

  1. (idiomatic) To acquire knowledge or develop evidence that reveals the truth about someone's character or behavior, especially criminal behavior.
    • 1914, Peter B. Kyne, chapter 19, in The Long Chance:
      "Bob, they've got the goods on you. There's a warrant out."
    • 1921, William MacLeod Raine, chapter 10, in Tangled Trails:
      "You've got the goods on me. I can't deny I'm the man the police are lookin' for."
    • 1922, B. M. Bower, chapter 14, in The Trail of the White Mule:
      "With marked money and marked bottles, we ought to be able to get the goods on that gang."
    • 2000 April 6, Alexander Walker, "Erin Brockovich" (film review), London Evening Standard (UK) (retrieved 22 Nov 2011):
      And the film shows how mother-care can be more convincing than a legal brief in getting the goods on the corporate villains.
    • 2002 Sept. 26, "California Culprits" (editorial), New York Times (retrieved 22 Nov 2011):
      [T]he state's flawed deregulation scheme practically invited unscrupulous behavior. Still, it's encouraging that Washington is finally getting the goods on the manipulators.

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