Draw your horns in


      • Retreat or become less aggressive or assertive
        Used to advise someone to calm down or back off from a situation that may lead to conflict or harm

      • Become more reserved or cautious in one's actions
        Encourages someone to be more careful or restrained in their behavior or decisions, often in response to a risky or uncertain situation

    Examples of Draw your horns in

    • John's anger drew his horns in when the boss criticized him in front of the whole team.

      When someone's anger is intense, you can say that it makes them puff up or appear more menacing, like a bull with its horns flared. "Drawing your horns in" is the opposite: you're trying to appear less intimidating, less angry. In the example, John's boss called him out in front of his coworkers, causing John to become very angry. But John didn't want to seem overly aggressive, so he tried to calm himself down by "drawing his horns in."

    • After the briefing, the general drew his horns in and left the room without saying a word.

      When someone is in a position of power or authority, it's possible for them to come across as intimidating. In this example, the general has just finished giving a briefing, and as he leaves the room, he tries to appear less intimidating by "drawing his horns in." This could mean that he's trying to appear less authoritative or less angry, or it could just mean that he's trying to appear less imposing in general.

    • The bullfighter drew his horns in as the angry bull charged toward him.

      In a bullfight, the bullfighter tries to lure the bull into charging at him, then dodges out of the way at the last second. In order to avoid getting gored, the bullfighter needs to be able to appear less intimidating than the angry bull. In this example, the bullfighter "draws his horns in" as the bull charges, making himself appear less threatening and more likely to avoid getting hurt.

    • The boxer drew his horns in as the referee warned him for fouling.

      In a boxing match, the referee is in charge of keeping the fighters from getting too aggressive. If a fighter fouls, the referee might warn them to stop trying to cheat or hurt their opponent. In order to avoid getting disqualified, the fighter needs to appear less aggressive than the referee. In this example, the boxer "draws his horns in" as the referee warns him, making himself appear less threatening and more likely to avoid getting disqualified.

    • Sarah's initial presentation was full of grandiose claims and aggressive body language, but when the board questioned her, she quickly drew her horns in and responded calmly and confidently.

      This idiom refers to the tendency of certain animals, such as deer and buffalo, to make themselves appear less threatening by shrinking their horns or antlers in. When someone draws their horns in, they are Signaling that they are not looking for a confrontation or antagonistic exchange. Sarah's initial overconfident and intimidating behavior may have put off the board, causing them to challenge her. By responding in a more subdued and cooperative manner, Sarah was able to diffuse the situation and demonstrate her true capabilities.

    • During the negotiation, the other party quickly realized that they were being outmatched, and drew their horns in.

      This metaphorical use of the idiom conveys that the other party recognized they were at a disadvantage and stepped back from aggressive tactics to seek a more conciliatory approach.

    • After months of heated debates and aggressive posturing, both sides finally agreed to draw their horns in and find a peaceful resolution.

      This idiom is often used in situations where two parties are engaged in a prolonged conflict or negotiation. Drawing one's horns in can signify a willingness to compromise or avoid confrontation in order to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. In this example, both sides have exhausted other options and have come to the realization that further aggression will only harm their shared objectives.

    • Despite provocation, the diplomat remained stoic and calm, drawing her horns in.

      The use of 'her' denotes that the idiom is used gendrer neutral. This idiom can be used in situations where the person's emotions could cause a scene. In this example, it signifies that the person being described (here, a diplomat) is professionally and calmly handling a potentially volatile situation.


    This idiom is often used in a figurative sense to suggest that someone should take a step back and reassess their approach or attitude. It can be used in various contexts, from advising against a confrontational attitude in a heated argument to cautioning against taking unnecessary risks in a risky situation. In both cases, the intention is to encourage a more reserved or cautious approach.

    Origin of "Draw your horns in"

    The origins of this idiom are uncertain, but it is believed to have originated from the behavior of horned animals. When under threat or in a tense situation, animals such as bulls or goats may draw in their horns as a defensive measure. This behavior is often seen as a sign of retreat or caution, which may have inspired the figurative use of the phrase.

    Another possible origin is from the world of sailing. When a ship is in danger of hitting rocks or shallow waters, sailors would pull in their boat's "horns" or ropes to avoid damage. This action also symbolizes a retreat or cautious approach.

    No matter the exact origin, the idiom "draw your horns in" has been in use since at least the 17th century and continues to be a useful phrase for advising someone to calm down, be more cautious, or retreat from a situation.