In a novel "Dead Beautiful " by Yvonne Woon a guy tells Renée about the lady who punished her:

“Lynch loves watching people squirm. She’s always on me for having too much facial hair.”

I couldn't find what exactly "on me" means, though I could make out the meaning from the complete line. So is it used? And does it mean: "shouting at or criticizing someone "? What exactly does it mean and is it's use common?

  • 1
    Yes, it's a fairly common phrase in American English and usually implies mild criticism; e.g., "Trim your beard!" Apr 8, 2019 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


To be on someone in AmE means: to be constantly hassling or criticizing them for something.

"She’s always on me [criticizing me or hassling me] for having too much facial hair.”

In other words, if you are on someone about something, you want them to do something.

Here, that would be: shave off the facial hair.

It is a very common expression in American English.

[Not to be confused with the more British expression: to be on about something, which refers to constantly talking about something. In AmE, usually: going on and on about something]

  • 1
    But entirely equivalent to the British English expression "to be/get on", no about - "she's always on at me for having too much facial hair" is exactly how we would convey the meaning that you indicate.
    – SamBC
    Apr 8, 2019 at 16:31
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    @Lambie Could be on someone possibly be a short form of be on someone's case? She's always on my case for having too much facial hair – is that how you see it?
    – user3395
    Apr 8, 2019 at 16:49
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    @userr2684291 They mean the same thing.
    – Lambie
    Apr 8, 2019 at 16:52

It's not a turn of phrase I've come across in British English, but such things are very dialect dependent. From what little context you give, I would say that this means the same as I would mean if I were to say "she's always on at me", which is a variation on the phrasal verb "to be/go on" at somebody, suggesting nagging or persistent criticism or advice, or urging someone to do something.

It seems likely that, in other dialects, the same meaning is conveyed with "on" rather than "on at".

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