clip someone's wings

Idioms & Phrases

clip someone's wings

Restrain or reduce someone's freedom, as in Hiding his car keysyou're really clipping his wings. This metaphor for clipping a bird's wings to prevent its flying away dates from ancient Roman times. Christopher Marlowe used it in The Massacre at Paris (1590): "Away to prison with him, I'll clip his wings."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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