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short end of the stick (plural short ends of the stick)

  1. (idiomatic) A situation, opportunity, or outcome which is less favorable than situations, opportunities, or outcomes experienced by or available to others.
    • 1963 April, Ralph E. Lapp, "The Strategy of Overkill," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, p. 10 (Google preview):
      Soviet emphasis on high-yield weapons might give them a megaton surplus. . . . We might then be on the short end of the stick.
    • 1981 Aug. 24, Claudia Wallis, "Gee Thanks, Ronnie, but...," Time (retrieved 10 April 2014):
      [T]he 44 Governors . . . spent three days in tense, often heated discussion of the enormous political and fiscal problems handed to the states under President Reagan's "new federalism." Said Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus: "There is some apprehension on the part of the Governors that we are getting the short end of the stick."
    • 2010 July 9, Bob Herbert, "Restoring a Hallowed Vision," New York Times (retrieved 10 April 2014):
      “[W]orking people are sick and tired of the bosses getting million-dollar bonuses and the workers getting the short end of the stick.”
    • 2012 Sept. 2, Tim Jonze, "Africa Express: rolling coverage," Guardian (UK) (retrieved 10 April 2014):
      Does this mean Middlesbrough get the short end of the stick, with what will surely be the most ramshackle show of the tour?