clip someone's wings

clip someone's wings

Restrain or reduce someone's freedom, as in Hiding his car keys-you're really clipping his wings. This metaphor for clipping a bird's wings to prevent its flying away dates from ancient Roman times. Christopher Marlowe used it in The Massacre at Paris (1590): "Away to prison with him, I'll clip his wings."
See also: clip, wing

clip someone's wings

COMMON If someone clips your wings, they limit your freedom to do what you want. Since then, these companies have become big business, with no government having the courage to clip their wings. Congress tried to clip his wings and cancel his referendum. Note: People sometimes clip the wings of birds to prevent them from flying away.
See also: clip, wing

clip someone's wings

prevent someone from acting freely.
Clip someone's wings comes from the phrase clip a bird's wings , which means ‘trim the feathers of a bird so that it cannot fly’.
See also: clip, wing