harness(redirected from harnesses)
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die in harness
To die while still actively working or still of the age or physical condition to do so (i.e., before retirement). With medicine and healthcare improving at such vast rates, far fewer people die in harness than ever before.
*back in(to) (the) harness
Fig. back doing one's job. (*Typically: be ~; get ~.) I don't look forward to getting back into the harness next Monday. When my vacation is over, I have to get back into harness the very next day. I'm not looking forward to having to get back in harness after my trip abroad.
harness an animal up
to put a harness on an animal, such as a horse. You had better harness the horses up so we can go. Please harness up the mare for me.
harness someone (or an animal) to something
to attach someone, something, or an animal to something with a harness. The instructor harnessed me to the hang glider, and I really began to get nervous. Andrew harnessed the horses to the little wagon.
be back in harness(mainly British)
to have returned to work again after not working for a period of time How does it feel to be back in harness after 8 months?
if two or more people work in harness, they work together to achieve something French and British police are working in harness to solve the problem.
die with one's boots on
Also, die in harness. Expire while working, keep working to the end, as in He'll never retire-he'll die with his boots on, or She knows she'll never get promoted, but she wants to die in harness. Both phrases probably allude to soldiers who died on active duty. Until the early 1600s the noun boot denoted a piece of armor for the legs, which may have given rise to this usage; and Shakespeare used harness in the sense of armor when he wrote: "At least we'll die with harness on our back" ( Macbeth 5:5).
On duty or at work. For example, Despite his illness he's determined to continue in harness. It also is put as be back in harness, meaning "to return to duty or work," as in After a long vacation she's finally back in harness. This expression alludes to horses harnessed to perform work. [First half of 1800s] Also see die with one's boots on (in harness).
On duty or at work.