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Ride roughshod and run roughshod

To ride roughshod over something or someone means to act without restraint, to act without consideration for others’ needs, wants or feelings. The term ride roughshod over something traces its roots to equine warfare. It was and still is common practice to shoe horses that must traverse slippery terrain roughshod, or with nails or other metal protuberances on the shoes to make it easy to gain traction. However, in warfare, horses were roughshod not only for traction, but in order to make their hooves a more lethal weapon when trampling fallen enemy soldiers. The figurative use of the term ride roughshod over something first appeared in the early 1700s.

To run roughshod over something or someone means to act without restraint, to act without consideration for others’ needs, wants or feelings. The idioms run roughshod over something and ride roughshod over something are interchangeable, though the term run roughshod over something is used more often in North America than in other parts of the world. The phrase ride roughshod over something is older.


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Examples

People ride roughshod over traffic norms in Ludhiana, cops helpless (The Hindustan Times)

Many contractors ride roughshod over the interests of the families residing in the neighbourhood of building sites. (The Times of Malta)

Human Rights Watch said Cambodia’s close relationship with China had led it to ride roughshod over human rights. (The Khmer Times)

Lincoln considered it so, which is perhaps why he was willing to run roughshod over the Constitution in order to save the Union. (The Chicago Tribune)

Coupled with an eroding regulatory climate in places such as Peru and Brazil, business interests have run roughshod over preexisting land tenure practices and in some case have targeted dissenters. (Mother Jones Magazine)

This self-destructive mechanism for members’ sovereignty enabled tinhorn bureaucrats to run roughshod over good governance. (The Washington Post)

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