pull your punches

pull (one's) punches

1. To act as if one is punching someone, without making any or much physical contact. (Short for "pull one's punches.") How dare you—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

pull your punches

be less forceful, severe, or violent than you could be.
See also: pull, punch

pull your ˈpunches

(informal) (usually used in negative sentences) express something less strongly than you are able to, for example to avoid upsetting or shocking somebody: Her articles certainly don’t pull any punches.I don’t believe in pulling punches. If they’re wrong, let’s say so. OPPOSITE: not mince your words
See also: pull, punch