Definitions

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

  • n. A long narrow leather strap attached to each end of the bit of a bridle and used by a rider or driver to control a horse or other animal. Often used in the plural.
  • n. A means of restraint, check, or guidance.
  • n. A means or an instrument by which power is exercised. Often used in the plural: the reins of government.
  • transitive v. To check or hold back by or as if by the use of reins. Often with in, back, or up.
  • transitive v. To restrain or control.
  • intransitive v. To control a horse, for example, with reins.
  • idiom draw in the reins To slow down or stop by or as if by pressure on the reins.
  • idiom free To release from restraints; allow to go unchecked: gave rein to her emotions.
  • idiom tight rein Close control: kept expenses on a tight rein.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A strap or rope attached to the bridle or bit, used to control a horse, animal or young child.
  • v. To direct or stop a horse by using reins.
  • v. this sense?) (usually "rein in") To stop or restrain a horse. Also used figuratively
  • n. A kidney.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The strap of a bridle, fastened to the curb or snaffle on each side, by which the rider or driver governs the horse.
  • n. Hence, an instrument or means of curbing, restraining, or governing; government; restraint.
  • transitive v. To govern or direct with the reins.
  • transitive v. To restrain; to control; to check.
  • intransitive v. To be guided by reins.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The strap of a bridle, fastened to the curb or snaffle on each side, by which the rider or driver restrains and guides the animal driven; any thong or cord used for the same purpose. See cut under harness.
  • n. A rope of twisted and greased rawhide.
  • n. plural The handles of blacksmiths' tongs, on which the ring or coupler slides.
  • n. Figuratively, any means of curbing, restraining, or governing; government; restraint.
  • To govern, guide, or restrain by reins or a bridle.
  • To restrain; control.
  • To carry stiffly, as a horse does its head or neck under a bearing-rein.
  • To obey the reins.
  • n. An obsolete singular of reins.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. one of a pair of long straps (usually connected to the bit or the headpiece) used to control a horse
  • v. control and direct with or as if by reins
  • n. any means of control
  • v. keep in check
  • v. stop or check by or as if by a pull at the reins
  • v. stop or slow up one's horse or oneself by or as if by pulling the reins

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French resne, reine, from Vulgar Latin *retina, from Latin retinēre, to retain; see retain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Anglo-Norman reyne, from Old French resne (Modern French rêne), from Vulgar Latin *retina, from Classical Latin retineō ("to retain"), from re- + teneō. (Wiktionary)
From Anglo-Norman reines, Middle French reins, and their source, Latin rēnēs. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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