Has His Number: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
January 19, 2024

The phrase "has his number" is mostly used in a figurative sense, but its literal meaning stems from the simple idea of having someone's phone number. When you have someone's number, you can reach out to them; you know how to get in touch. In its figurative sense, it means understanding or knowing well another person's true character or motives.

In short:

  • Its literal meaning refers to actually having someone's phone number.
  • Figuratively, it's about knowing someone well, either in a good or bad way.

What Does "Has His Number" Mean?

If you say someone "has his number," you mean they've figured out how another person thinks or acts. This phrase is often used when someone knows how to deal with another person's tricks or methods. For example, if you're playing poker and your friend seems always to know your bluffs, you might say, "He really has my number.

Let's break down its core meanings and usage:

  • This phrase is often used to say that someone understands another person's character or tactics.
  • It comes up when talking about relationships, competition, or even work settings.
  • It's a way to say you're onto someone, that you've got them figured out.
  • People also use it when they know how to deal with someone difficult or tricky.
  • Other ways to express the same idea include phrases like "read him like a book," "got the measure of him," and "knows what he's up to.

Where Does "Has His Number" Come From?

The origin of the phrase "has his number" isn't clear. However, it might be linked to having someone's "measure" or understanding them thoroughly. The phrase has been around for a while, and you can find it in literature, movies, and everyday conversations.

10 Examples of "Has His Number" in Sentences

To make it easy to understand how to use "has his number," here are some examples from everyday life:

  • In the basketball game, it was clear the defender had the shooter's number because he blocked every shot.
  • When negotiating, Jane has her boss's number and knows exactly what to say.
  • He thought he could cheat on the test, but the teacher had his number.
  • She had his number and broke up with him before he could hurt her.
  • The detective had the criminal's number and was able to solve the case quickly.
  • During the debate, it was clear that Sarah had her opponent's number.
  • The salesman thought he could fool her, but she had his number from the start.
  • In the card game, it seemed like Mike had everyone's number as he kept winning.
  • When it comes to parenting, it's like those kids have their mom's number.
  • Even though he tried to hide his feelings, his best friend had his number and knew something was wrong.

Examples of "Has His Number" in Pop Culture

This phrase pops up a lot in movies, books, and TV shows. Let's look at some examples:

  • In an episode recap of the TV show "Empire," Kingsley visits Diana DuBois in prison to gather information against the Lyons family. Diana, however, "has his number" and understands his motives.
  • A New York Times article about the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" mentions that a character named Julie, played by Aubrey Plaza, "has his number" when it comes to the protagonist's behavior.
  • In a review of the TV show "The Penthouse – Season 3," Seo-Jin "has his number" and threatens another character, indicating she knows his weaknesses.
  • NPR's article titled "Jack Bauer Is Back, But One Woman Has His Number" discusses the return of the TV show "24" and how a female character seems to understand Jack Bauer's methods.

Synonyms: Other Ways to Say "Has His Number"

If you want to say "has his number" in a different way, here are some other phrases you can use:

  • Reads him like a book
  • Knows what he's up to
  • Has got the measure of him
  • Is onto him
  • Sees right through him
  • Gets what he's about
  • Understands his game
  • Is not fooled by him
  • Knows his true colors
  • Has a handle on him

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Has His Number":

  • What does "has his number" mean?

"Has his number" means that someone fully understands another person's motivations, tactics, or weaknesses. This phrase can be used in situations where one person has figured out how to deal with or counter another.

  • How can I use "has his number" in a sentence?

You can use "has his number" to show that someone is not easily fooled or tricked by another. For example: "You can't lie to Sarah; she has your number," or "Mike couldn't get the better of his opponent in chess; it was clear the opponent had his number."

  • Is it more common in professional or casual settings?

This phrase is versatile and can be used in both casual and professional settings, but it's probably more common in casual conversations or when discussing games or personal relationships.

  • Is the phrase typically used in a positive or negative context?

It usually has a neutral or negative connotation, suggesting that the person "with the number" has some sort of advantage or insight into the other's actions or thoughts.

  • Can it be used in written form?

Yes, "has his number" can appear in articles, emails, or books, serving to highlight one person's keen understanding of another.

  • What's the literal meaning of the phrase?

Originally, "having someone's number" could mean literally having their phone number, but the idiomatic expression has moved beyond that to indicate understanding someone's character or motives.

  • How is it different from "sees right through him"?

While both phrases indicate a level of understanding, "has his number" often implies a more tactical or strategic advantage, whereas "sees right through him" is usually about seeing someone's true intentions or character.

  • Does it imply a sort of power dynamic?

Yes, the person who "has the number" usually has some sort of advantage or upper hand in the relationship or situation.

  • Is it used in sports commentary?

Yes, it's often used in sports to describe a situation where one team or player clearly understands and can counter the tactics of the opposition.

  • Is the phrase gender-specific?

No, it's not gender-specific. You can say "has her number," "has their number," and so on, based on the subject.

Final Thoughts About "Has His Number"

The idiom "has his number" is a useful way to describe a situation where one person has a deep understanding of another's motivations, tactics, or weaknesses.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The phrase shows that one person has a good read on another.
  • It can be used in both casual and professional settings.
  • While often neutral or negative, the phrase does imply a certain power dynamic.
  • The phrase isn't gender-specific and can be used in various contexts, including sports.

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