Take The Reins: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 29, 2023

The idiom, "Take the reins," bears a significant meaning. To "take the reins" is to assume control or leadership of a situation, especially boldly or forcefully. The phrase is often used when there's a need for solid leadership or decisive action. The reins are used to guide and control the horses and, thus, the direction and speed of the carriage. When one 'takes the reins,' it metaphorically means they are taking control and deciding the direction.

In short:

"Take the reins" means to assume control or leadership.

What Does 'Take The Reins' Mean?

Let's examine the broader context of "Take the reins." This idiom carries variations and related expressions. At its core, " taking the reins" means accepting responsibility and control over a situation, project, or group. However, some nuances can vary based on context.

  • Assuming a Leadership Role: This is often used when one steps up to take charge in a leadership position, whether in a business setting, a team, or even a country.
  • Displaying Assertiveness: 'Taking the reins' often conveys an image of Assertiveness or decisiveness, demonstrating the courage to guide the situation towards a desired outcome.
  • Taking Control in Personal Circumstances: This phrase isn't limited to formal leadership scenarios. One can 'take the reins' in personal circumstances, such as taking charge of one's life or a personal project.

Despite its range of uses, the core meaning of the idiom remains consistent: someone is stepping up to guide a situation toward a particular goal or outcome.

Where Does "Take The Reins" Come From?

This phrase stems from the age of horse-drawn vehicles when reins were used to guide and control the horses. The person who held the reins was in control of the speed and direction of the vehicle. This tangible control is metaphorically applied in the idiom, denoting leadership and decision-making power.

Historical Context

"He who holds the reins rules the steeds." 

- Hesiod, Works and Days, 700 B.C.

10 Examples of "Take The Reins" in Sentences

Understanding the use of 'Take the reins' becomes clearer when we see it in action. Here are ten examples that showcase the idiom's versatility:

  • I confidently told my boss not to patronize me anymore and to trust me enough to take the reins on the critical project.
  • She decided to take the reins of her career and pursue her passion for writing.
  • When the project manager fell ill, Susan had to take the reins and ensure the project's success.
  • As a city girl born and raised, I decided to take the reins of my family's cattle ranch and embrace the challenges of rural life.
  • The director left midway through the shoot, leaving the assistant director to take the reins.
  • In the midst of chaos, John decided to take the reins and guide his team toward safety.
  • As the new project manager, it's hard to believe how time flies when you take the reins and lead a team toward success.
  • I have decided to take the reins of my health and start a new fitness regimen.
  • After years of watching from the sidelines, it was my turn to take the reins and lead the team.
  • As the new project manager, I'll take the reins with enthusiasm and warm regards to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Examples of "Take The Reins" in Pop Culture

As a common idiom, 'Take the reins' frequently pops up in various forms of media and entertainment. Here are some instances:

  • In the movie 'The Dark Knight,' Bruce Wayne has to take the reins and assume his responsibility as Batman to save Gotham City.
  • In the T.V. series 'Game of Thrones,' Daenerys Targaryen takes the reins of her destiny, rising from a pawn to a queen.
  • In the Broadway musical 'Hamilton,' Alexander Hamilton is portrayed as taking the reins of his fate and shaping American history.
  • The song 'Take the Reins' by Tsunami Bomb metaphorically encourages the listener to take the reins of their own life.
  • In the book series 'Harry Potter,' Professor Dumbledore takes the reins as the headmaster of Hogwarts.
  • In the reality show 'Survivor,' contestants often have to take the reins to win challenges and navigate social dynamics.
  • The phrase is commonly used in sports commentary, like when a quarterback is said to take the reins of their team.
  • In 'The Office,' Michael Scott often attempts to take the reins of situations, usually with humorous results.

Other Ways to Say "Take The Reins"

Variety is the spice of language, and there are numerous ways to express the concept of "taking the reins."

Here are ten alternatives:

  • He decided to take control of the situation.
  • She chose to steer the course of the project.
  • The team leader will assume command.
  • It would help if you took charge of your life.
  • I decided to grab the wheel and change my career path.
  • The manager held the helm during the crisis.
  • He decided to seize control of his destiny.
  • The director had to take command after the lead actor quit.
  • After the accident, she had to take the driver's seat and care for her family.
  • In the corporate world, being prepared to take the lead is crucial.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Take The Reins"

  • What does the idiom "take the reins" mean?

'Take the reins' is an idiom that means to assume control or leadership over a situation or a group.

  • Where does the idiom "take the reins" come from?
    The phrase comes from the era of horse-drawn vehicles, where the person holding the reins controlled the direction and speed of the carriage. This has been metaphorically used to denote control or leadership.
  • How can I use "take the reins" in a sentence?
    For instance, "After the previous manager resigned, Susan had to take the reins of the project."
  • Can "take the reins" be used in a personal context?
    Yes, you can use 'take the reins' in a personal context. For instance, "I decided to take the reins of my health and start exercising regularly."
  • Are there other idioms similar to "take the reins"?
    Yes, similar idioms include 'take charge,' 'steer the course,' 'take command,' and 'hold the helm.'
  • Is "take the reins" used in formal or informal language?
    It's versatile and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
  • Can "take the reins" imply a sense of assertiveness?
    Yes, 'taking the reins' often implies assertiveness or decisiveness, denoting the courage to guide a situation towards a desired outcome.
  • Does "take the reins" always imply a positive action?
    While it typically implies a positive or proactive step, the outcome can be positive or negative based on the skill and intent of the person 'taking the reins.'
  • Can "take the reins" be used metaphorically?
    Yes, in fact, 'take the reins' is usually used metaphorically to refer to taking control of non-physical circumstances or situations.
  • What are some pop culture examples of "take the reins"?
    Examples include usage in movies like 'The Dark Knight,' TV series like 'Game of Thrones,' and songs like 'Take the Reins' by Tsunami Bomb.

Final Thoughts About 'Take The Reins'

'Take the reins' is an idiom that holds significant weight in everyday language due to its clear illustration of control, leadership, and assertiveness. Its ability to communicate an individual's or group's shift towards an active role in shaping their circumstances is powerful. Here are a few key points summarizing its importance:

  • Assertive Control: The idiom inherently conveys an image of someone assuming control or leadership with assertiveness and determination.
  • Use in Diverse Contexts: 'Take the reins' is versatile. The wide applicability underlines that it can be used in various scenarios ranging from professional environments to personal situations.
  • Metaphorical Strength: The idiom is a classic example of effective metaphorical language. By referring to the action of controlling a horse, it paints a vivid picture of steering situations, enhancing comprehension and impact.
  • Common Use: The phrase is frequently used in daily conversation, media, literature, and pop culture, confirming its entrenched position in the English language.

In a nutshell, 'Take the reins' is a powerful phrase that continues to be a valuable expression in language, underlining the essence of leadership and control.

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