Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

cull the herd

1. Literally, to separate or remove (and usually kill) inferior animals out of a herd so as to reduce numbers or remove undesirable traits from the group as a whole. We had to quickly cull the herd when it came to light that some cows might be carrying an infectious disease.
2. By extension, to separate or remove people from a larger group. With so many people applying for a limited number of jobs, employers have had to cull the herd by introducing much stricter criteria and a more elaborate application for hiring. Universities have long used standardized test results as a means of culling the herd of applicants they receive each year.
See also: cull, herd

be like herding cats

To be very unwieldy or unmanageable; to be nearly impossible to organize. Usually said of a group of people. Getting all of the extended family into their right places for the reunion photo was like herding cats! It's like herding cats trying to manage all these different software development teams.
See also: cat, herd, like

herd someone or something together

to bunch people or animals together. Let's herd all the kids together and take them in the house for ice cream and cake. I herded all the puppies together and put them in a box while I cleaned their play area.
See also: herd, together

like herding frogs

Rur. chaotic; disorderly. (On the image of trying to direct frogs, which will jump any which way.) Trying to get those kids to march into the auditorium is like herding frogs. Trying to get everybody to cooperate is like herding frogs.
See also: frog, herd, like

ride herd on someone or something

Fig. to supervise someone or something. (Alludes to a cowboy supervising cattle.) I'm tired of having to ride herd on my kids all the time. My job is to ride herd on this project and make sure everything is done right.
See also: herd, ride

ride herd on somebody/something

to be responsible for controlling a group of people and their actions The new editor will ride herd on the staff, checking on the overall policy and tone of the paper.
See also: herd, ride

ride herd on

Keep close watch or tight control over, as in Aunt Martha is always riding herd on her bridge club, making sure they follow the rules . This idiom alludes to the cowboy who rides around a herd of cattle to keep them together. [Late 1800s]
See also: herd, ride

ride herd on

To keep watch or control over.
See also: herd, ride
References in classic literature ?
At last Mowgli rounded up the bewildered herd at the head of the ravine on a grassy patch that sloped steeply down to the ravine itself.
As I topped a great boulder I saw the herd of plant men surrounding a little group of perhaps five or six green men and women of Barsoom.
Meanwhile the herd had crashed off in wild alarm in the other direction.
If the animals in front are continually changing and the direction of the whole herd is constantly altered, this is because in order to follow a given direction the animals transfer their will to the animals that have attracted our attention, and to study the movements of the herd we must watch the movements of all the prominent animals moving on all sides of the herd.
Out upon the plain grazed numerous herds of wild ruminants.
It is at such times that the black lions of the forest take their greatest toll from the herds, and it is infrequent that a lion attempts to enter the corrals at night.
When the remainder of the warriors had gathered, the hunt was again taken up and the stalking of the retreating herd once more begun; but they had covered a bare hundred yards when from behind them, at a great distance, sounded faintly a strange popping.
Great herds of swine from forest and glen were brought.
The town is separated from the river by a band of sand-hillocks, about a mile broad: it is surrounded, on all other sides, by an open slightly-undulating country, covered by one uniform layer of fine green turf, on which countless herds of cattle, sheep, and horses graze.
So great was it that Wolf Larsen himself did not dare heave to, though he was being driven far to the southward and out of the seal herd.
The people and the herd must be angry with me: a robber shall Zarathustra be called by the herdsmen.
It's particulary nice if Pava's daughter should be a red-spotted cow, and all the herd will take after her, and the other three, too
There come the buffaloes themselves, and a noble herd it is
Wide prairies Vegetable productions Tabular hills Slabs of sandstone Nebraska or Platte River Scanty fare Buffalo skulls Wagons turned into boats Herds of buffalo Cliffs resembling castles The chimney Scott's Bluffs Story connected with them The bighorn or ahsahta Its nature and habits Difference between that and the "woolly sheep," or goat of the mountains
In this part of the journey there was no lack of provisions, for the prairies were covered with immense herds of buffalo.