putty in someone's hands

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

A metaphor likening the easy malleability of putty to the easy manipulability of the person.

Noun[edit]

putty in someone's hands (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic, of a person) One who is readily manipulated or controlled by another person; a puppet.
    • 1894 May 27, Harold Frederic, "Marsena," New York Times, p. 19 (retrieved 27 July 2010):
      Why, Marseny, here, he wan't no more than so much putty in her hands.
    • 1941 Dec. 11, "Caroline Chatfield Says," St. Petersburg Times, p. 17 (retrieved 27 July 2010):
      So long as she behaves in a way to keep his love and respect he's putty in her hands.
    • 2007 Aug. 5, Kitty Empire, "Nothing compares 2 Prince," guardian.co.uk (retrieved 27 July 2010):
      [H]e clocks on at 8.30 pm with the opening guitar notes of his most famous song, ‘Purple Rain’. Everyone is instantly putty in his hands.

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