- a wind instrument, originally formed from the hollow horn of an animal but now usually made of brass or other metal or plastic.
- French horn.
- a tube of varying cross section used in some loudspeakers to couple the diaphragm to the sound-transmitting space.
- Slang.a loudspeaker.
verb (used with object)
Origin of horn
- the constituent substance, mainly keratin, of horns, hooves, etc
- (in combination)horn-rimmed spectacles
- a device for producing a warning or signalling noise
- (in combination)a foghorn
- Also called: acoustic horn, exponential horna hollow conical device coupled to the diaphragm of a gramophone to control the direction and quality of the sound
- any such device used to spread or focus sound, such as the device attached to an electrical loudspeaker in a public address system
- Also called: horn antennaa microwave aerial, formed by flaring out the end of a waveguide
- to suppress or control one's feelings, esp of anger, enthusiasm, or passion
- to withdraw a previous statement
- to economize
- in a situation involving a choice between two equally unpalatable alternatives
- in an awkward situation
Word Origin for horn
Old English horn "horn of an animal," also "wind instrument" (originally made from animal horns), from Proto-Germanic *hurnaz (cf. German Horn, Dutch horen, Gothic haurn), from PIE *ker- "horn; head, uppermost part of the body," with derivatives refering to horned animals, horn-shaped objects and projecting parts (cf. Greek karnon "horn," Latin cornu "horn," Sanskrit srngam "horn," Persian sar "head," Avestan sarah- "head," Greek koryphe "head," Latin cervus "deer," Welsh carw "deer"). Reference to car horns is first recorded 1901. Figurative senses of Latin cornu included "salient point, chief argument; wing, flank; power, courage, strength." Jazz slang sense of "trumpet" is by 1921. Meaning "telephone" is by 1945.
1690s, "to furnish with horns," from horn (n.). Earlier in figurative sense of "to cuckold" (1540s). Meaning "to push with the horns" (of cattle, buffalo, etc.) is from 1851, American English; phrase horn in "intrude" is by 1880, American English, originally cowboy slang.
pull in one's horns
Also, draw in one's horns.
Retreat, back down, restrain oneself, as in The town manager wanted higher taxes but public reaction made him draw in his horns. This expression alludes to the snail's habit of drawing in the soft projecting parts of its body when it is threatened. The idea was first expressed in the 15th century as shrink one's horns, and the idiom with draw developed about the same time. The idiom with pull did not appear until a century later.
Reduce expenses, as in That drop in profits will force the company to pull in its horns. [Late 1800s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with horn
- horn in on
- horns of a dilemma, on the
- blow one's own horn
- lock horns
- pull in one's horns
- take the bull by the horns