When you're riding a horse and scream "Whoa!" to make it stop, you're pulling on the reins, which are attached to a thing called the bridle, the buckled straps around a horse's head that help you control its movements.

The word bridle comes from the Old English bridel meaning "rein, curb, restraint," which is precisely what the purpose of a bridle is — to help restrain a horse's movements when necessary. You can bridle a horse, which is the act of putting a bridle on it. If you yank too hard on the reins, your horse might bridle, or take offense to your aggressiveness, just like you might bridle if someone insulted you.

Definitions of bridle
  1. noun
    headgear for a horse; includes a headstall and bit and reins to give the rider or driver control
    see moresee less
    type of:
    stable gear consisting of any part of a harness that fits about the horse's head
  2. noun
    the act of restraining power or action or limiting excess
    “his common sense is a bridle to his quick temper”
    synonyms: check, curb
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the act of controlling by restraining someone or something
  3. verb
    put a bridle on
    bridle horses”
    see moresee less
    remove the bridle from (a horse or mule)
    fit or restrain with a snaffle
    type of:
    constrain, cumber, encumber, restrain
    hold back
  4. verb
    respond to the reins, as of horses
    see moresee less
    type of:
    answer, reply, respond
    react verbally
  5. verb
    anger or take offense
    “She bridled at his suggestion to elope”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    anger, see red
    become angry
Commonly confused words

bridal / bridle

Bridal is related to a bride, but bridle refers to a part of a horse's harness and what you do with it. Although the words sound the same, they run in different circles unless you're getting a horse ready for her wedding.

Continue reading...

Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week