pull in (one's) horns(redirected from pull in his horns)
pull 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 pull in our horns and spend less going forward.
pull in one's horns
Also, draw in one's horns.
1. Retreat, back down, restrain oneself, as in The town manager wanted higher taxes but public reaction made him draw in his horns. This expression alludes to the snail's habit of drawing in the soft projecting parts of its body when it is threatened. The idea was first expressed in the 15th century as shrink one's horns, and the idiom with draw developed about the same time. The idiom with pull did not appear until a century later.
2. Reduce expenses, as in That drop in profits will force the company to pull in its horns. [Late 1800s]
pull in your hornsor
draw in your horns
If you pull in your horns or draw in your horns, you start behaving more carefully than you did before, especially by spending less money. The world's big spenders have pulled in their horns during the recession. Customers are drawing in their horns at a time of high interest rates. Note: When snails sense danger, they pull in their `horns', which are the stalks that their eyes are on.