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  • (file)

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show who's boss (third-person singular simple present shows who's boss, present participle showing who's boss, simple past showed who's boss, past participle shown who's boss)

  1. (intransitive, idiomatic) To demonstrate oneself to be dominant; to show that one has the upper hand.
    • 1975, Dorothy Corkille Briggs, Your Child's Self-esteem: The Key to Life, →ISBN, p. 234 (Google preview):
      When children are young, spanking is a familiar device to show who's boss.
    • 1989 June 24, Alan Cowell, "Coping With Curfew in Gaza," New York Times (retrieved 11 June 2015):
      Israeli soldiers . . . impose the curfews as collective punishment or as a means to head off violent protest, or simply to show who's boss.
    • 2015 Feb. 12, Anna Lysyanskaya, "Want better data privacy? Demand it," Providence Journal (retrieved 11 June 2015):
      So tomorrow a patriotic Russian hacker might just start breaking into private email servers of American companies and releasing their contents, just to show who’s boss.
  2. (transitive, idiomatic) To demonstrate that one is dominant over or superior to someone; to establish that one has control of some device or intractable object.
    • 1916, B. M. Bower, The Heritage of the Sioux, ch. 21:
      "Bimeby I show yoh who's boss. I make yoh cry for Ramon be good to yoh!"
    • 1995 March 14, Russell Baker, "Fat Is Easier," New York Times (retrieved 11 June 2015):
      A typewriter once put me in such evil temper that I threw it out a second-floor window. . . . Replacing it cost $100 or so—a small price to pay for the pleasure of showing a machine who's boss.
    • 2009 July 25, Lawrence O'Donnell Jr, "The Stupidity of the Gates Arrest," Time (retrieved 11 June 2015):
      [H]e decided to show Gates who's boss the only way he knew how—by whipping out his handcuffs and abusing his power to arrest.

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