draw a bead on someone

nikkieli

Senior Member
Bulgaria, Bulgarian
Hi,
I recently came across the idiom "to draw a bead on s.o." My dictionary (standard English-Bulgarian) lists it as having both literal and figurative interpretations. While the literal is pretty obvious:aim with a gun, the figurative meaning doesn't seem to be the precise equivalent of what I am looking for.
I'll have a go and make up a context.

My boss is constantly nagging at me and is always unhappy with my results no matter how hard I try. I think he has drawn a bead on me.

Please tell me what the most appropriate phrase you would choose in this situation. Would "to have a grudge against s.b." function here?
Thank you
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    " to have a grudge" seems to fit here, but I would hazard that "drawing a bead" implies having a grudge and taking steps to do something about it.
     

    nikkieli

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria, Bulgarian
    Thank you, Cpedant,
    I have one more thing to ask you. Is 'draw a bead on s.o.' commonly used, or would you suggest another, commoner option?
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    I wouldn't describe it as a "common" expression, but it's certainly understandable and idiomatic and not quite yet a cliché. I wouldn't hesitate to use it in your context.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Drawing a bead" doesn't imply a grudge. A boss might be totally dispassionate, but have an employee who consistently does something wrong (it doesn't matter how hard an employee tries, it's what an employee does that counts.)

    The reality of the workplace is that a boss who tolerates a hard-working, but incompetent employee will find himself or herself in trouble.

    I would say it's an equivalent to "singling me out," which works either way.
     
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