Definition of rein in English:

rein

noun

usually reins
  • 1A long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse's bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse in riding or driving.

    • ‘Ben stepped down and threw the reins of his horse over the rail.’
    • ‘When they had gotten the horses all bridled and ready, Gina took the reins and led her horse over to the mounting block.’
    • ‘He reached around me, grasping the horse's reins, and spurred the creature into a gallop.’
    • ‘Once out of town he flicked the reins and sent the horses into a gallop.’
    • ‘Cali took Chloe's reins and guided her back to the trailer.’
    • ‘Sir Evelyn's squire bowed, holding out the reins to the horse.’
    • ‘Then, with a shake of the reins, the horse galloped ahead and disappeared into the mist.’
    • ‘They walked in and greeted the stable boy as he handed them both the reins to their horses.’
    • ‘She soon took the reins again and guided the horse back to the stables.’
    • ‘Spotting them, she quickly grabbed the reins and led the horses back at a trot.’
    • ‘Joe dismounted beside him and reached for the reins of Ben's horse.’
    • ‘The old man handed the already saddled brown horse's reins to him.’
    • ‘I accidentally tugged on the reins and the horse went even faster.’
    • ‘Sighing he too climbed up on the carriage and pulled on the reins driving the horses back to the mansion.’
    • ‘Her mare strained against the current but did not falter in her strength and all Sadie could do was hold tightly to the reins and trust the horse to make it across.’
    • ‘He walked over to Samantha's horse, grabbed the reins, and walked several yards away from the group, where they could not hear him.’
    • ‘Handing the reins of his horse over to one of the stable boys, Conner started walking up the stairs to the large doors.’
    • ‘Nora tightly clutched the horse's reins as she galloped along the countryside.’
    • ‘I concentrated on staring at my horse's reins, which were gripped so tightly in my hands that my knuckles turned white.’
    • ‘Jamie took the reins and the horses began to canter quickly down the road.’
    1. 1.1British A pair of straps used to restrain a young child:
      ‘some of the children wore leather baby reins’
      • ‘We offer fully adjustable baby harnesses & baby and child reins to keep kids safe when walking outside.’
      • ‘Baby reins are designed to keep your toddler safe when walking out and about’
    2. 1.2 The power to direct and control:
      ‘a new chairperson will soon take over the reins’
      • ‘Wall Street, of course, could not have been more excited by the prospect of taking control of the reins of the monetary system.’
      • ‘He is letting a younger man take over the reins.’
      • ‘We have to understand that rule of law is the first casualty when a lawless, fascist organisation takes over the reins of state.’
      • ‘"Women who take the reins of power have always prompted mixed reactions.’
      • ‘The outstanding singer, songwriter, musician and producer did the majority of work on his new album himself, holding a tight rein on its creative direction.’
      • ‘But when the celebrations die down, and when the euphoria subsides, do not forget for one moment who handed you back the reins of power.’
      • ‘European statesmen seized the opportunity to exploit these nationalist movements, while bringing them under a tight rein, in order to further the purposes of state power.’
      • ‘The people of the country should be saved from the humiliation of a person of foreign origin holding the reins of power.’
      • ‘As Malcolm had said years ago, Dominic was playing a game, slowly moving Jeremy into a leadership role, while holding fast to the reins of power.’
      • ‘Professional norms dictated faith and loyalty not just in deed but in spirit to whoever held the reins of power under the constitutional system.’
      • ‘John's tight personal hold on the legal and administrative reins of power were as much driven by a need to raise money as they were by his personal obsession with the minutiae of government.’
      • ‘Once Hathaway took the directing reins, he found himself having to improvise with the script on a daily basis.’
      • ‘So he's handed the director's reins to someone else.’
      • ‘After a short time at Dexter Avenue, the younger King wrestled the reins of leadership from the deacons.’
      • ‘Weil takes the reins on the melody and the chaos seems controlled when he's in command.’
      • ‘She also shows that Irish women are lagging way behind their EU counterparts in taking the reins of power when it comes to running the country.’
      • ‘Furthermore, there were many in that party who just thought it was their turn to grasp the reins of government authority.’
      • ‘It is good to see younger members coming through to take over the reins from more established members, bringing a fresh approach to the running of the club.’
      • ‘Or perhaps we should simply hand the reins of government directly to the people.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Check or guide (a horse) by pulling on its reins:

    ‘he reined in his horse and waited’
    • ‘They reined their horses up next to the arch.’
    • ‘He reined his horse and turned about, cursing himself all the way.’
    • ‘When the two horsemen reached one another, they reined in.’
    • ‘He reined his horse away from her and pointed his sword at her.’
    • ‘He reined his horse alongside hers; the groom dropped back to a discreet distance.’
    • ‘Some tipped their worn hats at him in greeting as they passed, while others contentedly reined their horses onward, chewing thoughtfully on a strand of wheat.’
    • ‘Expertly reining her horse, she was soon side by side with him.’
    • ‘A moment later, a shout caused them both to rein their horses around.’
    • ‘I mumbled, reining my horse up beside Jack's, who was leering into the trees, ‘They won't hurt us will they?’’
    • ‘Improvising, he reined his horse back slightly, just enough to convince it to leave the position it knew it should take.’
    1. 1.1 Keep under control; restrain:
      ‘with an effort, she reined back her impatience’
      ‘the government had failed to rein in public spending’
      • ‘Mr McDowell insisted that he would continue to rein in the overtime budget, which is expected to reach 64 million this year.’
      • ‘The museum has been forced to rein in its work in many areas: cutting numbers of staff, reducing opening hours, cancelling exhibitions and installing a rota of closed galleries.’
      • ‘The progressive impulse brought down the original robber barons, and reined in corporate greed.’
      • ‘However, critics would say that the failure to rein in the incomes of the rich has meant that society in Britain is no more equal than it was in 1997.’
      • ‘The big unknown for hotels and restaurants that had factored corporate extravagance into their plans is how much spending will be reined in.’
      • ‘You could stand to rein in your jealousy a little, though, and your boyfriend may want to not fib about things that are going to exacerbate that quality in you.’
      • ‘He somehow reined in his emotions and managed a breathless ‘What?’’
      • ‘After our long campaign, some of the outlaws are finally being reined in.’
      • ‘He took a deep calming breath and reined in his temper.’
      • ‘Transnational corporations will only be reined in locally when they are brought under democratic control internationally.’
      • ‘He also said there would be no income tax cuts in the forthcoming budget and that the Government's priority was to rein in spending.’
      • ‘Special police were drafted in to rein in the revelry.’
      • ‘As for revenue growth, investors still want to see it, but they've reined in their expectations.’
      • ‘She admits that she has to be reined in on occasion.’
      • ‘Fears are growing in the city that the disease cannot be reined in as more people have been infected.’
      • ‘In the process, they are helping policy makers rein in inflation.’
      • ‘In 1858 Britain reined in the East India Company, dissolving its territorial power and making India the responsibility of the British crown.’
      • ‘The wider the margins, the better management has reined in costs and kept business humming along.’
      • ‘The reality over the next five years is that the Government will have far less resources and will have to rein in spending significantly.’
      • ‘If political leaders lack the control to rein in their more violent followers, they have no right to public protests.’
      restrain, check, curb, constrain, hold back, keep in check, keep under control, hold in, regulate, restrict, control, bridle, put the brakes on, slow down, curtail, limit, stop, arrest
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Usage

The idiomatic phrase a free rein, which derives from the literal meaning of using reins to control a horse, is sometimes misinterpreted and written as a free reign. More than a third of the citations for the phrase in the Oxford English Corpus use reign instead of rein

Phrases

  • draw rein

    • Stop one's horse:

      ‘he drew rein and waited for his friend to catch up’
      • ‘Lancaster drew rein, tethering his horse in the thicket of pine just off the crest of the hill.’
      • ‘Her father guided the mare carefully through the courtyard to the front of the stone-built castle, then drew rein in front of a blond little boy sitting outside the wide arched doorway.’
      • ‘Her words tumbled over themselves as she told her father everything she had done, and before she realized it he was drawing rein in front of their own home.’
      • ‘She drew rein, bringing her horse to a halt and facing the largest of the raiders.’
  • (a) free rein

    • Freedom of action or expression:

      ‘he was given free rein to work out his designs’
      • ‘All it takes for evil to triumph over good in any country is for decent people to remain silent as wicked men are allowed free rein.’
      • ‘‘These kids have a free rein to do what they want,’ he said.’
      • ‘And telemarketers are given free rein to call your home.’
      • ‘Together, we must fight for balance in globalization by bringing together producers and labour to expand the concept beyond free rein for corporations.’
      • ‘Consultants will be give a free rein to put forward whatever options they believe are best and most financially acceptable to secure the building's future.’
      • ‘For the life of me, I cannot understand what these people want, apart from a free rein to continue with their insulting programming on radio.’
      • ‘The oil and gas companies who supported his candidacy were given free rein to write their own rules when it came to state policy on emissions control.’
      • ‘Given free rein on the layout, I extended the text of his story to take up eight full pages, with each page also playing host to one of eight collages.’
      • ‘Students from various educational institutions turned up to give free rein to their imagination.’
      • ‘However, it is the free rein of the surface vessels to transit through those submarine areas, even though they are known to be training grounds.’
      freedom, scope, a free hand, leeway, latitude, elbow room, space, room, flexibility, liberty, independence, play, slack, free play, leisure, licence, room to manoeuvre, scope for initiative, freedom of action, freedom from restriction, indulgence, laxity, margin
      wriggle room, wiggle room
      carte blanche
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  • keep a tight rein on

    • Exercise strict control over:

      ‘her only chance of survival was to keep a tight rein on her feelings’
      • ‘But while the company controls advertising and chooses programmes, the state-run TV station keeps a tight rein on news programming.’
      • ‘In this way the ships captain kept a tight rein on his men and when the ship set sail it was with a suitably chastened crew, or so the Captain thought.’
      • ‘Morton keeps a tight rein on all aspects of the business.’
      • ‘She's very spontaneous and can be aggressive at times, though she's usually able to keep a tight rein on that.’
      • ‘She almost seemed artificial, especially with how she kept a tight rein on her emotions, remaining perfectly in control at all times.’
      • ‘Revenues had to be grown through adding costs and capital to businesses and then keeping a tight rein on costs while watching profits grow.’
      • ‘Analysts say the regime will keep a tight rein on dissidents and focus on securing social and political stability.’
      • ‘The filmmaker keeps a tight rein on her direction and storyline, and the film's strength lies in its view of war through the eyes of women.’
      • ‘She also defended the cost, and insisted she kept a tight rein on spending.’
      • ‘The new policies are meant to keep a tight rein on teachers rather than students.’
      exercise strict control over, keep on a tight rein, allow little freedom to, regulate, manage, discipline, regiment, keep in line, rule with a rod of iron
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Origin

Middle English: from Old French rene, based on Latin retinere retain.

Pronunciation:

rein

/reɪn/