- Often reins. a leather strap, fastened to each end of the bit of a bridle, by which the rider or driver controls a horse or other animal by pulling so as to exert pressure on the bit.
- any of certain other straps or thongs forming part of a harness, as a checkrein.
- any means of curbing, controlling, or directing; check; restraint.
- reins, the controlling or directing power: the reins of government.
verb (used with object)
- to check or guide (a horse or other animal) by exerting pressure on a bridle bit by means of the reins.
- to curb; restrain; control.
verb (used without object)
- to obey the reins: a horse that reins well.
- to rein a horse or other animal.
- draw rein, to curtail one’s speed or progress; halt: The rider saw the snake and drew rein sharply.
- give rein to, to give complete freedom to; indulge freely: to give rein to one’s imagination.Also give free rein to, give full rein to.
- (often plural) one of a pair of long straps, usually connected together and made of leather, used to control a horse, running from the side of the bit or the headstall to the hand of the rider, driver, or trainer
- a similar device used to control a very young child
- any form or means of controlto take up the reins of government
- the direction in which a rider turns (in phrases such as on a left (or right) rein, change the rein)
- something that restrains, controls, or guides
- give free rein or give a free rein to allow considerable freedom; remove restraints
- keep a tight rein on to control carefully; limitwe have to keep a tight rein on expenditure
- on a long rein with the reins held loosely so that the horse is relatively unconstrained
- shorten the reins to take up the reins so that the distance between hand and bit is lessened, in order that the horse may be more collected
- (tr) to check, restrain, hold back, or halt with or as if with reins
- to control or guide (a horse) with a rein or reinsthey reined left
c.1300, “strap fastened to a bridle,” from Old French rene, resne “reins, bridle strap, laces” (Modern French rêne), probably from Vulgar Latin *retina “a bond, check,” back-formation from Latin retinere “hold back” (see retain). To give something free rein is originally of horses.
c.1300, from rein (n.). Figurative extension “put a check on” first recorded 1580s. Related: Reined; reining. To rein up “halt” (1550s) is from the way to make a horse stop by pulling up on the reins.
see draw in the reins; free hand (rein) tight rein on.