keep within bounds

keep (someone or something) within bounds

1. To ensure that something remains polite, civil, or in good taste. I will ask again that both candidates please keep the debate within bounds. Keep your jokes within bounds, OK?
2. To cause or force someone to remain adherent to some prescribed laws, guidelines, codes, etc. The laws laid out within our holy book exist in order to keep people within bounds. The structures of the autocratic society keep the common man within bounds, while the rich and powerful maintain control.
See also: bound, keep, within
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

keep (someone or something) within bounds

Fig. to cause someone or something to remain constrained or be reasonable; to cause someone to act or something to be in good taste. I know you want artistic freedom, but if you want an audience, you are going to have to keep within bounds. Try to keep the children within bounds. Do keep your behavior within bounds.
See also: bound, keep, within
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Raps his shoe on the table, he's harder to keep within bounds. What
It can't take frost so needs winter protection but even full grown in the wild only reaches about 6ft so is easy to keep within bounds. It is a bush with a spreading, weeping habit which can look very attractive in a pot.