Kick over the traces

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Kick over the traces is an idiom that is primarily used in Great Britain, the phrase is rarely seen in North America. We will examine the definition for kick over the traces, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To kick over the traces means to be insubordinate, to purposely shake off authority, to be reckless or unruly. Most specifically, the term applies to someone who is supposed to follow certain rules or protocol, yet refuses. The idiom kick over the traces goes back at least to the 1800s and refers to the straps that attach a horse, oxen or other draft animal to the wagon it is pulling, known as traces. If an animal kicks over the traces, it steps over these leather straps. This makes it impossible for the driver to control the animal. Related terms are kicks over the traces, kicked over the traces, kicking over the traces.


His entry about the singer Marianne Faithfull, for example, called her the “daughter of a baroness and blessed with the face of an angel (some observers said a fallen angel),” and added that she was “well educated in convent schools, but the sheltered atmosphere of those years probably contributed to her desire to kick over the traces.” (The New York Times)

With legs free to kick over the traces, it allows Tindall to choreograph ensembles that catch the risque mood of the times, conjuring up an appropriate backdrop to the duets between Casanova and the two women, Henriette and Bellino, who represent what Tindall sees as Casanova’s positive regard for women. (The Herald Scotland)

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