from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A harness, consisting of a headstall, bit, and reins, fitted about a horse's head and used to restrain or guide the animal.
  • noun A curb or check.
  • noun Nautical A span of chain, wire, or rope that can be secured at both ends to an object and slung from its center point.
  • intransitive verb To put a bridle on.
  • intransitive verb To control or restrain: synonym: restrain.
  • intransitive verb To lift the head and draw in the chin in anger or resentment.
  • intransitive verb To be angry or resentful; take offense.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To put a bridle on: as, to brīdle a horse.
  • To restrain, guide, or govern; check, curb, or control: as, to bridle the passions.
  • Synonyms To repress, master, subdue.
  • To hold the head up, in the manner of a spirited horse under a strong rein, especially as an expression of pride, scorn, or resentment; assume a lofty manner so as to assert one's dignity or express indignation; toss the head; strut: generally with up.
  • To connect; join as by a bridle: as draft-rollers (in cotton-manufacturing) that are yoked together.
  • noun That portion of the gear or harness of a horse (or other animal similarly used) which is fitted to its head, and by which it is governed and restrained, consisting usually of a head-stall, a bit, and reins, with other appendages, according to its particular form and uses. See cut under harness.
  • noun An old instrument of punishment and restraint for scolds: a simpler form of the branks.
  • noun Figuratively, a restraint; a curb; a check.
  • noun The piece in the interior of a gun-lock which covers and holds in place the tumbler and sear, being itself held by the screws on which they turn. See cut under gun-lock.
  • noun The piece on the end of a plow-beam to which the draftshackle is attached; the clevis. Also called muzzle or plow-head.
  • noun In machinery, a link, flange, or other attachment for limiting the movement of any part of a machine.
  • noun Nautical, a chain or rope span both ends of which are made fast, the strain or power being applied to the bight.
  • noun In pathology, a small band attaching two parts to each other, as two serous surfaces after inflammation, or the sides of the urethra after urethritis, or stretched across a pustule or vesicle, modifying its shape.
  • noun In anatomy, a frenum (which see).
  • noun An arrangement by which a large kite, used in aërial observations, is attached to the steel wire by which it is held.
  • noun A device for controlling the speed of logs on a skid-road.
  • noun In certain cephalopods, one of the bands which attach the funnel to the head.
  • noun In pianoforte-making. Same as bridle-tape.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To hold up the head, and draw in the chin, as an expression of pride, scorn, or resentment; to assume a lofty manner; -- usually with up.
  • transitive verb To put a bridle upon; to equip with a bridle.
  • transitive verb To restrain, guide, or govern, with, or as with, a bridle; to check, curb, or control.
  • noun The head gear with which a horse is governed and restrained, consisting of a headstall, a bit, and reins, with other appendages.
  • noun A restraint; a curb; a check.
  • noun (Gun.) The piece in the interior of a gun lock, which holds in place the tumbler, sear, etc.
  • noun A span of rope, line, or chain made fast as both ends, so that another rope, line, or chain may be attached to its middle.
  • noun A mooring hawser.
  • noun See under Bowline.
  • noun See under Branch.
  • noun (Naut.) a cable which is bent to a bridle. See 4, above.
  • noun the hand which holds the bridle in riding; the left hand.
  • noun a path or way for saddle horses and pack horses, as distinguished from a road for vehicles.
  • noun (Naut.) a porthole or opening in the bow through which hawsers, mooring or bridle cables, etc., are passed.
  • noun a rein attached to the bit.
  • noun A road in a pleasure park reserved for horseback exercise.
  • noun a bridle path.
  • noun See Branks, 2.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The headgear with which a horse is directed and which carries a bit and reins.
  • noun A length of line or cable attached to two parts of something to spread the force of a pull, as the rigging on a kite for attaching line.
  • verb transitive To put a bridle on.
  • verb transitive To check, restrain, or control with, or as if with, a bridle; as in bridle your tongue.
  • verb intransitive To show hostility or resentment.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English bridel, from Old English brīdel.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English brīdel, from Proto-Germanic *brigdilaz


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word bridle.


  • Jenny twitched the bridle from the perspiring groom and minced up to the prisoner.

    The Black Moth: A Romance of the XVIII Century

  • I ceased treating her too kindly - snubbing, and riding with a curb-bridle, is what she needs.

    Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • Yet I dare say the chorus of a musical comedy would not be awestruck -- would, indeed, 'bridle' -- if one unrolled to them their illustrious pedigree.

    Yet Again

  • As a jetski it's a big fail, but it would make a half way decent horse head if it was all brown and the bridle was a bit

    Cue Cards, Please?

  • The reins were secured by chain-work, and the front-stall of the bridle was a steel plate, with apertures for the eyes and nostrils, having in the midst a short, sharp pike, projecting from the forehead of the horse like the horn of the fabulous unicorn.

    The Talisman

  • The old saddles are tied on with twine; one side of the bridle is a worn-out strap and the other a rope.

    A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

  • McLellan cavalry saddle, with a battered brass peak, and the bridle is a rotten leather strap on one side and a strand of rope on the other.

    A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

  • At the next change a bridle was a thing unheard of, and when I suggested that the creature would open her mouth voluntarily if the bit were pressed close to her teeth, the standers-by mockingly said,

    Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

  • There was a ribbon hanging under her chin which the old lady called a bridle, and when

    Glenloch Girls

  • There was a ribbon hanging under her chin which the old lady called a bridle, and when

    Glenloch Girls


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • noun--part of a horse's harness

    intransitive verb--to show offence

    July 17, 2007

  • Shake a bridle over a Yorkshireman's grave, and he will arise and steal a horse. -- an old saying recorded by Grose in his 1787 A Provincial Glossary, presumably "an allusion to the fondness for horses, shewn by almost every native of this county."

    May 3, 2011