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  1. part of the tack or harness of a horse, consisting usually of a headstall, bit, and reins.
  2. anything that restrains or curbs: His common sense is a bridle to his quick temper.
  3. Machinery. a link, flange, or other attachment for limiting the movement of any part of a machine.
  4. Nautical. a rope or chain secured at both ends to an object to be held, lifted, or towed, and itself held or lifted by a rope or chain secured at its center.
  5. a raising up of the head, as in disdain.
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verb (used with object), bri·dled, bri·dling.
  1. to put a bridle on.
  2. to control or hold back; restrain; curb.
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verb (used without object), bri·dled, bri·dling.
  1. to draw up the head and draw in the chin, as in disdain or resentment.
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Origin of bridle

before 900; Middle English bridel, Old English brīdel for brigdels, equivalent to brigd- (variant stem of bregdan to braid) + -els noun suffix; akin to Dutch breidel, Old High German brittel
Related formsbri·dle·less, adjectivebri·dler, noun
Can be confusedbridal bridle

Synonyms for bridle

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bridle

control, deterrent, leash, curb, restraint, rein, check, headstall, halter, hackamore, inhibit, subdue, withhold, suppress, govern, rule, repress, restrain, master, constrain

Examples from the Web for bridle

Contemporary Examples of bridle

Historical Examples of bridle

  • Stephen caught the bridle, and Ambrose helped the burgess into the saddle.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Take my bridle off the wall, you, Jeff, and throw it at my feet.

  • Alleyne, you will come with me, and lead a spare horse by the bridle.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "It is well," said he, and with a shake of the bridle rode on down the woodland path.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Shandy gave the bridle a swing, and it clattered to the floor from its peg.


    W. A. Fraser

British Dictionary definitions for bridle


  1. a headgear for a horse, etc, consisting of a series of buckled straps and a metal mouthpiece (bit) by which the animal is controlled through the reins
  2. something that curbs or restrains; check
  3. a Y-shaped cable, rope, or chain, used for holding, towing, etc
  4. machinery a device by which the motion of a component is limited, often in the form of a linkage or flange
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  1. (tr) to put a bridle on (a horse, mule, etc)
  2. (intr) (of a horse) to respond correctly to the pull of the reins
  3. (tr) to restrain; curbhe bridled his rage
  4. (intr often foll by at) to show anger, scorn, or indignation
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Derived Formsbridler, noun

Word Origin for bridle

Old English brigdels; related to bregdan to braid 1, Old High German brittil, Middle Low German breidel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bridle


Old English bridel "bridle, rein, curb, restraint," related to bregdan "move quickly," from Proto-Germanic *bregdilaz (see braid (v.)).

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"to control, dominate," c.1200, from Old English bridlian "to fit with a bridle," from bridel (see bridle (n.)). Meaning "to throw up the head" (as a horse does when reined in) is from mid-15c. Related: Bridled; bridling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper