Definition of rein in English:


Syllabification: rein
Pronunciation: /rān


(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 while riding or driving.
More example sentences
  • Spotting them, she quickly grabbed the reins and led the horses back at a trot.
  • She soon took the reins again and guided the horse back to the stables.
  • He reached around me, grasping the horse's reins, and spurred the creature into a gallop.
1.1The power to direct and control: management is criticized for its unwillingness to let go of the reins of an organization and delegate routine tasks
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The people of the country should be saved from the humiliation of a person of foreign origin holding the reins of power.


[with object] Back to top  
1Check or guide (a horse) by pulling on its reins: he reined in his horse and waited for her
More example sentences
  • He put up his arm to halt the other knights as he reined in his own horse, ‘We'll stop here for a few minutes before we get to the castle.’
  • We all reined in our horses, and Rowen dismounted.
  • Both riders reined in their horses and dismounted.
1.1Keep under control; restrain: with an effort, she reined back her impatience critics noted the failure of the administration to rein in public spending
More example sentences
  • If political leaders lack the control to rein in their more violent followers, they have no right to public protests.
  • The reality over the next five years is that the Government will have far less resources and will have to rein in spending significantly.
  • 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.
restrain, check, curb, constrain, hold back/in, keep under control, regulate, restrict, control, curtail, limit


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


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.


draw rein

Stop one’s horse.
More example sentences
  • She drew rein, bringing her horse to a halt and facing the largest of the raiders.
  • 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.

(a) free rein

Freedom of action or expression: he was given free rein to work out his designs
More example sentences
  • And telemarketers are given free rein to call your home.
  • 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.
  • ‘These kids have a free rein to do what they want,’ he said.
freedom, a free hand, leeway, latitude, flexibility, liberty, independence, free play, license, room to maneuver, carte blanche, a blank check

keep a tight rein on

Exercise strict control over; allow little freedom to: her only chance of survival was to keep a tight rein on her feelings and words
More example sentences
  • But while the company controls advertising and chooses programmes, the state-run TV station keeps a tight rein on news programming.
  • She's very spontaneous and can be aggressive at times, though she's usually able to keep a tight rein on that.
  • Analysts say the regime will keep a tight rein on dissidents and focus on securing social and political stability.
exercise strict control over, regulate, discipline, regiment, keep in line

Definition of rein in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day rebuff
Pronunciation: rəˈbəf
reject (someone or something) in an abrupt manner…