herd


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cull the herd

1. Literally, to separate or remove (and usually kill) inferior animals out of a herd so as to reduce numbers or remove undesirable traits from the group as a whole. We had to quickly cull the herd when it came to light that some cows might be carrying an infectious disease.
2. By extension, to separate or remove people from a larger group. With so many people applying for a limited number of jobs, employers have had to cull the herd by introducing much stricter criteria and a more elaborate application for hiring. Universities have long used standardized test results as a means of culling the herd of applicants they receive each year.
See also: cull, herd

be like herding cats

To be very unwieldy or unmanageable; to be nearly impossible to organize. Usually said of a group of people. Getting all of the extended family into their right places for the reunion photo was like herding cats! It's like herding cats trying to manage all these different software development teams.
See also: cat, herd, like

herd cats

To attempt to coordinate or control subjects that are uncooperative. Often used as a point of comparison in the phrase "like herding cats." Trying to get my two toddlers out the door these days is like herding cats!
See also: cat, herd

ride herd on (someone or something)

To closely observe or monitor someone or something to supervise or maintain control. An allusion to a cowboy riding on his horse to keep a herd of cattle in order. We want the groups of students to work independently, but we should have a teacher riding herd on each one to make sure they stay focused. Being a camp counselor is a lot of fun, but having to ride herd on a bunch of kids for two weeks at a time can be exhausting.
See also: herd, on, ride

herd someone or something together

to bunch people or animals together. Let's herd all the kids together and take them in the house for ice cream and cake. I herded all the puppies together and put them in a box while I cleaned their play area.
See also: herd, together

like herding frogs

Rur. chaotic; disorderly. (On the image of trying to direct frogs, which will jump any which way.) Trying to get those kids to march into the auditorium is like herding frogs. Trying to get everybody to cooperate is like herding frogs.
See also: frog, herd, like

ride herd on someone or something

Fig. to supervise someone or something. (Alludes to a cowboy supervising cattle.) I'm tired of having to ride herd on my kids all the time. My job is to ride herd on this project and make sure everything is done right.
See also: herd, on, ride

ride herd on

Keep close watch or tight control over, as in Aunt Martha is always riding herd on her bridge club, making sure they follow the rules . This idiom alludes to the cowboy who rides around a herd of cattle to keep them together. [Late 1800s]
See also: herd, on, ride

ride herd on someone/something

AMERICAN
If someone rides herd on other people or their actions, they control them. It's his job to ride herd on organizers to keep them on schedule. Note: People sometimes use over instead of on. The ideal situation is one where everyone feels responsible and no one person has to ride herd over the others. Note: Originally, `riding herd' involved patrolling on horseback around a herd of animals, in order to make sure none of them wandered away.
See also: herd, on, ride, someone, something

ride herd on

keep watch over.
Literally, this North American expression means ‘guard or control a herd of cattle by riding round its edge’.
1999 Coloradoan (Fort Collins) That, in turn, would detract from his ability to ride herd on Washington special interests, allowing deficits to grow like mushrooms under a rotten log.
See also: herd, on, ride

ride ˈherd on somebody/something

(American English, informal) keep watch or control over somebody/something: Police are riding herd on crowds of youths on the streets.
See also: herd, on, ride, somebody, something

ride herd on

To keep watch or control over.
See also: herd, on, ride
References in classic literature ?
Akela and Gray Brother ran to and fro nipping the buffaloes' legs, and though the herd wheeled once to charge up the ravine again, Mowgli managed to turn Rama, and the others followed him to the wallows.
The children had told the village about the buffalo stampede, and Buldeo went out angrily, only too anxious to correct Mowgli for not taking better care of the herd.
Well, well, we will overlook thy letting the herd run off, and perhaps I will give thee one of the rupees of the reward when I have taken the skin to Khanhiwara.
The old man, who had stood all this while leaning on his rifle, and regarding the movements of the herd with a steady eye, now deemed it time to strike his blow.
Then came another of those hollow bellowings from the rear, and set the herd again in motion.
But, as the body of the herd pressed more and more upon the open line of its defenders, and the dust thickened, so as to obscure their persons, there was, at each instant, a renewed danger of the beasts breaking through.
Now fellow," quoth he, "I would I were well out of this forest, for I care not to see such herds as these, or such faces as yours.
As the green warrior saw the last of his companions go down and at the same time perceived that the entire herd was charging him in a body, he rushed boldly to meet them, swinging his long-sword in the terrific manner that I had so often seen the men of his kind wield it in their ferocious and almost continual warfare among their own race.
Swift as I was I was none too soon, for the green warrior had been overtaken ere he had made half the distance to the forest, and now he stood with his back to a boulder, while the herd, temporarily balked, hissed and screeched about him.
Shortly after we re-passed the spot where Good had wounded the patriarchal bull we came across a herd of eland, but did not shoot at them, as we had plenty of meat.
They drive the seals, in small herds, a short distance inland before they kill them.
Out upon the plain grazed numerous herds of wild ruminants.
There was not a tree, and, excepting the guanaco, which stood on the hill-top a watchful sentinel over its herd, scarcely an animal or a bird.
A march of nine miles took them over high rolling prairies to the north fork; their eyes being regaled with the welcome sight of herds of buffalo at a distance, some careering the plain, others grazing and reposing in the natural meadows.
As far as his eye could reach, the country seemed absolutely blackened by innumerable herds.