draw/pull in one's horns, to

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draw in (one's) horns

To act more cautiously than one did before. I just got this quarter's budget report, and we definitely need to draw in our horns and spend less going forward.
See also: draw, horn

pull in (one's) horns

To begin to act more cautiously. I just got this quarter's budget report, and we definitely need to pull in our horns and spend less going forward.
See also: horn, pull
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

draw/pull in one's horns, to

To retreat, to back down. This expression, which dates back at least to the mid-fourteenth century, refers to the practice of snails, which can withdraw the soft, projecting parts of their body inside their shell when they feel threatened. The snail has no genuine horns. Rather, the front end of its muscular foot has sensory tentacles that look a little like horns, whence the expression. About 1350 an unknown chronicler wrote about Richard the Lionhearted in a particular campaign, “They . . . gunne to drawen in their hornes as a snayle among the thornes.” It has been a cliché since about 1800.
See also: draw, pull, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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