Hold your horses

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Hold your horses is one of those phrases that began with a literal meaning, and survives today with a figurative meaning. It is no surprise that the term arose during a time when settlers and gold miners were traveling westward across America using the power of horses. We’ll look at the original meaning of the phrase hold your horses, how it is figuratively used today, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Originally, hold your horses literally meant to pull up on a horse one was riding or driving from a wagon in order to make the horse halt. One may imagine many different instances where the command to hold your horses would be employed in a time where all transportation was powered by horses. By the 1840s in the United States the phrase hold your hosses was being used in a figurative sense to mean wait, stop, restrain yourself. Hoss is an American regional slang word for horse. By the 1930s the term evolved to hold your horses, which is interesting considering that the horse had all but disappeared as a method of transportation by this time. Today, hold your horses is often used as an imperative, which is a verb that is used as a command or exhortation. The horses in hold your horses is always plural.


Hold your horses though: we are in the midst of Mercury retrograde right now. (The Huffington Post)

And before you can mutter the words, “Thanks, Obama,” just hold your horses a minute. (The Sun-Herald)

You will be quite eager to come face-to-face with your blind date, but hold your horses. (The Times of India)

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