Definition of do a number on in English:

do a number on

phrase

North american
informal
  • Treat someone badly, typically by deceiving, humiliating, or criticizing them in a calculated way.

    • ‘Being torn from the only family you thought you knew really does a number on you, doesn't it?’
    • ‘Any setbacks in that area right now would really do a number on my head.’
    • ‘Maybe all those years in the Navy did a number on his psyche.’
    • ‘I think all those hallucinogens you took back in the 70's really did a number on you.’
    • ‘Gwyneth Paltrow says motherhood is doing a number on her memory.’
    • ‘This pregnancy is really doing a number on her hormones, that's the only explanation’
    • ‘It will knock your socks off - and do a number on your libido!’
    • ‘Though he's been doing a number on me with all of this chopping and changing, I think I've been screwing with his head, too, by keeping my emotional distance.’
    • ‘Her unemployment benefits ran out, her stopgap restaurant job couldn't pay her rent and did a number on her self-esteem, and she returned to her crack-cocaine habit, which she'd had under control for ten years.’
    • ‘Before it fades away entirely, though, Hitchens does a number on the Kennedy presidency.’