pull one’s punches

pull one’s punches

1. tv. to pull back during a boxing punch just before the full force of a blow is felt; to land lighter blows than normal upon an opponent. (Boxing and related sports.) The boxer started pulling his punches, and the ref ended the fight.
2. tv. to hold back in one’s criticism; to attenuate the intensity of one’s remarks. (Also with any in the negative.) I won’t pull my punches with you. This is lousy.
See also: pull, punch