pull punches

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Related to pull punches: cut some slack, rolls with the punches

pull (one's) punches

1. To act as if one is punching someone, without making any or much physical contact. How dare you—I have never pulled my punches during a fight in my entire career! I know you're trying to make the scene realistic, but please pull your punches next time!
2. By extension, to restrain one's commentary or criticism to avoid offending or upsetting someone. (Usually used in the negative.) I want your honest opinion of my story—don't pull your punches! Wow, your aunt really doesn't pull her punches. Is my sweatshirt really that ugly?
See also: pull, punch
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

pull one's punches

1. [for a boxer] to strike with light blows to enable the other boxer to win. Bill has been barred from the boxing ring for pulling his punches. "I never pulled punches in my life!" cried Tom.
2. Fig. to hold back in one's criticism. (Usually in the negative. The one's can be replaced with any in the negative.) I didn't pull any punches. I told her exactly what I thought of her. The teacher doesn't pull any punches when it comes to discipline.
See also: pull, punch
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pull (one's) punches

To refrain from deploying all the resources or force at one's disposal: didn't pull any punches during the negotiations.
See also: pull, punch
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"It's a very balanced report that also doesn't pull punches," says Ray A.
Given the chance to write about General Motors from the inside, Drucker didn't pull punches. In "Concept of the Corporation," the first serious inside examination of a huge profit-making institution, he criticized G.M.'s labor relations and called for many reforms of employee relations.
TODAY we give you the unvarnished truth about life on the NHS frontline from a hospital doctor who doesn't pull punches.
C4 rarely pull punches, but this series really hits home with its authenticity, not to mention a knock-out cast.
But Young was in no mood to pull punches. The defender said: "We were a shambles at the start.
Jacobson doesn't pull punches on granddad's involvement with such shady underworld figures as Frank Costello.
She believes children need guidance from adults and, despite the darker subjects of some of her books, readily admits to having to pull punches in her stories to protect her readers from the darker sides of life"The mass murder in The House of the Scorpion was a time when I pulled back.
ACTION HERO: Sean William Scott doesn't pull punches; BULLETPROOF: Victoria plays Nina alongside Jamie King
"It's a war and you cannot pull punches. You must do what it takes.
But Brown was in no mood to pull punches and declared: "Against Estonia we were poor in terms of our overall performance."
"It was specifically said out loud - they don't pull punches. They weren't being mean or saying it was a good idea - it's just statistically the way it's been for women.