Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to fencing: fencing material
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
1. To construct a fence around a particular area or thing. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fence" and "in." When our kids were little, we fenced our pool in so that they wouldn't be able to access it.
2. To restrict or limit someone. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fence" and "around." If you already signed a contract with them, I'm afraid you're fenced in.
To create a barrier so that someone or an animal can't access something else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fence" and "off." I fenced off my vegetables, and yet, it looks like our friendly, neighborhood deer population is still snacking on them regularly. We need to fence the pool off so the kids can't get to it on their own.
To create a barrier so that someone or an animal can't access something else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "fence" and "out." I think fencing out the deer is the only way we'll get them to stop snacking on our vegetable garden.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
fence someone in
to restrict someone in some way. I don't want to fence you in, but you have to get home earlier at night. Don't try to fence me in. I need a lot of freedom. Your last stupid move fenced in the department, making us less effective.
fence (someone or an animal) out
to keep someone or an animal out with a fence or barrier. We decided that living in the woods was satisfactory only if we fenced the wildlife out. We had to fence out the deer. We hoped we had fenced prowlers out with the tall electric fence.
fence someone or something off (from something)
to separate someone or something from something else with a fence or barrier. We fenced the children's play area off from the rest of the yard. Dave fenced off the play area. We fenced off the children from the rest of the yard.
fence something in
to enclose an area within a fence. When they fenced the garden in, they thought the deer wouldn't be able to destroy the flowers. We fenced in the yard to make a safe place for the children.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, hem in. Restrict or confine someone, as in He wanted to take on more assignments but was fenced in by his contract, or Their father was old-fashioned and the children were hemmed in by his rules. Both expressions transfer a literal form of enclosure to a figurative one. The first gained currency from a popular song in the style of a cowboy folk song by Cole Porter, "Don't Fence Me In" (1944), in which the cowboy celebrates open land and starry skies. The variant is much older, dating from the late 1500s.
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.