clip someone's wings, to

clip someone's wings

Fig. to restrain someone; to reduce or put an end to someone's privileges. (Alludes to clipping a bird's wings to keep it from flying away.) You had better learn to get home on time, or I will clip your wings. My mother clipped my wings. I can't go out tonight.
See also: clip, wing
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

clip someone's wings, to

To deflate a conceited person. Although at first glance this phrase might seem to have a military origin (from demoting an officer whose rank is indicated by wings), the metaphor actually comes from birds— specifically, the practice of clipping the wings of domestic fowl so they cannot fly away—and dates from ancient Roman times. “Away to prison with him, I’ll clippe his winges,” wrote Christopher Marlowe (The Massacre at Paris, 1590, 3.2).
See also: clip
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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