trim your sails

trim (one's) sails

1. To adapt oneself to new or altered circumstances. Following the attack, many politicians trimmed their sails and adopted a more aggressive stance on military action.
2. To spend less money; to decrease one's expenses. Our rent is much higher, so we've had to trim our sails a bit, but we love living in this area.
See also: sail, trim

trim your sails

make changes to suit your new circumstances.
Literally, trim a sail means ‘adjust the sail of a boat to take advantage of the wind’.
See also: sail, trim

ˌtrim your ˈsails


1 arrange the sails of a boat to suit the wind so that the boat moves faster
2 reduce your costs: Increasingly, businesses are having to trim their sails in order to survive.
See also: sail, trim
References in periodicals archive ?
If you can't trim your sails to suit the weather If you can't take your chance to pass the buck If you can't offer cardboard goods as leather and then persuade the mugs to buy the muck: If you can't work a profitable fiddle or cheat the Customs when you've been abroad If you can't wangle your returns, and diddle the Revenue, yet not be charged with fraud If you can't learn the art of social climbing and step on those who're underneath If you can't kid your friend you're not 2-timing then, when it suits you, kick him in the teeth If you can't run your car on public money or have your lunch each day at Hotel du Vin you're going to find that life's not that funny, and, believe me, mate, you'll end up an also-ran
It demonstrates that if you know how to trim your sails, there are no limits on how high the zeitgeist might waft you.