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. See illus. under harness.
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.

1300–50; (noun) Middle English rene, reine, raine < Old French re(s)ne < Vulgar Latin *retina, noun derivative of Latin retinēre to hold back, retain; (v.) Middle English rainen, reinen, derivative of the noun

reinless, adjective
unreined, adjective

rain, reign, rein.

6. check, bridle, limit. Unabridged


plural noun
the kidneys.
the region of the kidneys, or the lower part of the back.
(especially in Biblical use) the seat of the feelings or affections, formerly identified with the kidneys.

before 1000; Middle English reines, reenes < Old French reins; compare Old English (once) rēnys; both < Latin rēnēs kidneys, loins (plural); cf. renal Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rein (reɪn)
1.  (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
2.  a similar device used to control a very young child
3.  any form or means of control: to take up the reins of government
4.  the direction in which a rider turns (in phrases such as on a left (orright) rein, change the rein)
5.  something that restrains, controls, or guides
6.  give free rein, give a free rein to allow considerable freedom; remove restraints
7.  keep a tight rein on to control carefully; limit: we have to keep a tight rein on expenditure
8.  on a long rein with the reins held loosely so that the horse is relatively unconstrained
9.  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
10.  (tr) to check, restrain, hold back, or halt with or as if with reins
11.  to control or guide (a horse) with a rein or reins: they reined left

reins (reɪnz)
pl n
archaic the kidneys or loins
[C14: from Old French, from Latin rēnēs the kidneys]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "strap fastened to a bridle," from O.Fr. rene, probably from V.L. *retina "a bond, check," back-formation from L. retinere "hold back" (see retain). The verb is c.1300, from the noun. Figurative extension "put a check on" first recorded 1588.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

reins (rānz)
The kidneys, loins, or lower back.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Reins definition

the kidneys, the supposed seat of the desires and affections; used metaphorically for "heart." The "reins" and the "heart" are often mentioned together, as denoting the whole moral constitution of man (Ps. 7:9; 16:7; 26:2; 139:13; Jer. 17:10, etc.).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see draw in the reins; free hand (rein) tight rein on.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
It invites us to abide the unexpected, to live with dissonance, to rein in the
  impulse to control.
The only way to rein in the lenders and insurers is to put them out of business
  by saving your money for the things you purchase.
Now civic groups and native organizations are pushing governments and the
  courts to rein in oil development.
That's why credit-card companies have had to rein in their lending and shed
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