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draw in the reins
1. Literally, to pull in the reins of a bridled animal, especially a horse, to slow it down or bring it to a stop. Mary drew in the reins as she approached town, bringing her horse to a saunter.
2. By extension, to slow something down or bring it to a stop. During the economic boom, our company was making as many risky investments as we could find. Luckily, our CEO had the sense to draw in the reins on such recklessness before the economy crashed.
give rein to (someone or something)
To allow unchecked or unconstrained freedom to something or someone; to completely or freely indulge something or someone. George would make a great businessman if he didn't give rein to his emotions like that. It's a sure sign that this company is failing if they're willing to give rein to the interns like this. You have a nasty habit of giving rein to your drinking.
pull in the reins
To begin doing something more carefully or cautiously; to regain or tighten control over someone or something. This thesis you're planning is becoming wildly unfocused—I think you should pull in the reins a bit! I wish those parents would pull in the reins on their kids—the little devils are tearing the place apart!
take the rein(s)
To take or assume control (of something). After the CEO announced that she had been diagnosed with dementia, her daughter gradually began taking the reins of the company. I don't know why people are so utterly terrified of letting the federal government take the rein when it comes to things like healthcare.
See also: take
Complete freedom to do what one wants or chooses. Can you believe the boss gave me free rein on this project? Finally, I can present a campaign with my own vision!
allow (one) free rein
To give one complete freedom to do what one wants or chooses. Can you believe the boss allowed me free rein on this project? Finally, I can present a campaign with my own vision!
tighten the reins
To begin doing something more carefully or cautiously; to regain or tighten control of someone or something. This thesis you're planning is becoming unfocused. I think you should tighten the reins a bit. I wish those parents would tighten the rein on their kids, the little devils are tearing the place apart!
keep a tight rein on (someone or something)
To maintain strict or tight control over someone; to not allow someone very much independence or autonomy. Ever since George nearly lost his life savings in a drunken poker match, his husband has started keeping a tight rein on him. The boss has kept a tight rein on her assistant since she hired her.
give (one) free rein
To give one complete freedom to do what one wants or chooses. Can you believe the boss gave me free rein on this project? Finally, I can present a campaign with my own vision!
rein (someone or something) in
To tighten control over someone or something; to restrain, slow down, or diminish someone or something. You need to rein in your journalists; they can't be writing such inflammatory pieces about the president. I'm trying to rein in my enthusiasm a bit, because I don't want to be disappointed.
*free hand (with someone or something)
Fig. freedom to exercise complete control over something. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) I didn't get a free hand with the last project. John was in charge then, but he didn't get a free hand either.
give free rein to someoneand give someone free rein
Fig. to allow someone to be completely in charge (of something). (Alludes to loosening the reins of a horse and therefore control.) The boss gave the manager free rein with the new project. The principal gave free rein to Mrs. Brown in her classes.
keep a tight rein on someone or somethingand keep a close rein on someone or something
Fig. to watch and control someone or something diligently. (Alludes to controlling a horse by a tight grip on the reins.) The office manager kept a tight rein on the staff. Mary keeps a close rein on her children.
rein back on someone or something
to control or diminish the intensity of someone or something. The manager was urged to rein back on her assigning overtime. She reined back on expenses and demanded that others do likewise.
rein someone or something in
to bring someone or something under control; to slow down someone or something. Fred is getting out of hand. The boss undertook to rein him in a bit. The boss is trying to rein in Jane's enthusiasm.
rein something up
to bring something, usually a horse, to a stop. She reined her horse up and stopped for a chat. Rein up your horse and stop for a while.
[for a horse rider] to stop. The equestrian reined up and dismounted. We all reined up and waited for the cars to pass by.
draw in the reins
Come to a halt, back down. For example, During a recession, many businesses are forced to draw in the reins on expansion. This expression transfers the means of stopping a horse to other kinds of restraint.
Also, free rein. Freedom to do or decide as one sees fit. For example, The teacher gave her assistant a free hand with the class, or They gave me free rein to reorganize the department. The first expression dates from the late 1800s, the second from the mid-1900s.
give free rein to
see under free hand.
give rein to
see under free hand.
tight rein on, a
Strict control over, as in We told them to keep a tight rein on spending for the next year. This expression alludes to the narrow strap (rein) attached to a bit and used to control a horse's movements. Rein has been used to refer to any kind of restraint since the first half of the 1400s.
give someone free reinor
give someone a free rein
COMMON If you give someone free rein or give someone a free rein, you give them all the freedom they want or need to do something. Note: The reference in these expressions is to a rider using the reins to control a horse. He was given free rein to manage the project as he wished. Much to her delight, she was given a free rein to decorate the house exactly as she wanted. Note: You can also say that you allow someone free reign. The artists were allowed free rein to produce what they thought fitted the space. Note: You can also say that you have free rein. The children have free rein to choose the subjects that they want to study.
keep a tight rein on someone/somethingor
keep someone/something on a tight rein
COMMON If you keep a tight rein on someone or something or keep them on a tight rein, you control them firmly and carefully. Note: The reference in these expressions is to a rider using the reins to control a horse. It is said that he kept a very tight rein on his daughters, and that he was a very strict father. The recession has forced people to keep a very tight rein on their finances when on holiday. Her parents had kept her on a tight rein.
(a) free reincomplete freedom of action or expression.
The image here is of loosening grip on the reins of a horse, allowing it to choose its own course and pace, in contrast to the greater control implied by the next idiom.
keep a tight rein onexercise strict control over; allow little freedom to.
give/allow somebody/something free/full ˈrein,
give/allow free/full ˈrein to somebody/somethingnot restrict, limit or control something: In a novel the author need not keep to the facts, but a textbook is not the place to give free rein to your imagination. OPPOSITE: keep a tight rein on somebody/something
A rein is a long leather band that is fastened around a horse’s neck and used by the rider to control the speed of the horse.
keep a tight ˈrein on somebody/something(also keep somebody/something on a tight ˈleash) control somebody/something very carefully; give somebody/something very little freedom: The company must keep a tight rein on spending. ♢ She keeps her children on a tight leash to make sure they don’t get into trouble. OPPOSITE: give/allow somebody/something free/full rein
A leash is used to hold and control a dog, and a rein is used to control a horse.
1. To restrain or control something or someone: The coalition tried to rein in its more militant members. I reined my anger in and refused to fight.
2. To make a horse move more slowly or stop by pulling back on reins: Rein in your horse while this truck goes by. The horses wanted to break free, but the rancher reined them in.
To stop a horse, for example, by pulling on the reins.
draw in the reins
1. To slow down or stop a horse or other animal by putting pressure on the reins.
2. To restrain or control.