- 1[countable, usually plural] a long narrow leather band that is attached to a metal bar in a horse’s mouth (= a bit) and is held by the rider in order to control the horse She pulled gently on the reins. Wordfinderbridle, gallop, harness, horse, paddock, rein, stable, stirrup, tack, thoroughbred See related entries: Equine sports
- 2reins [plural] (British English) strips of leather, etc. worn by a small child and held by an adult in order to stop the child from walking off and getting lost
- 3the reins [plural] the state of being in control or the leader of something It was time to hand over the reins of power (= to give control to somebody else). The vice-president was forced to take up the reins of office. Word Origin Middle English: from Old French rene, based on Latin retinere
to give somebody complete freedom of action; to allow a feeling to be expressed freely The designer was given free rein. The script allows full rein to her larger-than-life acting style. When I paint I just give my imagination free rein. to control somebody/something carefully or strictly It’s essential to keep a tight rein on public spending.