do a number on

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do a number on

  1. (idiomatic) To damage; to treat harshly; to produce ill effects on.
    • 1974, "Sports: Full-time Franco Busts A Couple, Rushes For 141," Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct., p. 26 (retrieved 20 Aug. 2010):
      Last night, Harris went the distance and did a number on the Falcons, running for a career-high 141 yards while carrying the ball more often than he ever has.
    • 1988, Chet Currier, "Obstacles remaining in market's path to revival," Reading Eagle (USA), 25 Sept., p. B4 (retrieved 20 Aug. 2010):
      Hopes have faded lately on Wall Street. . . . "This market is really doing a number on both professionals and the public alike," said Sam Weinstein in his investment advisory letter.
    • 2007, Laura Fitzpatrick, "The Newest Addictions on Campus," Time, 12 Aug.:
      All-night caffeine-fueled video game binges do "a number on your body," says Essenburg.