from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive, idiomatic, US To supervise a group of people, such as workers, and/or their actions, i.e. their work.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the cowboy task of driving cattle while riding along with them.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word ride herd on.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • According to the Oxford American, "ride herd on" is "N.Amer. , keep watch over" -- an idiom I did not know before. An example, from a NYT article on the Alice show at the Morgan Library in NY: "Carroll often rode herd on Tenniel, one of the most successful illustrators of his day; 'Don’t give Alice so much crinoline' was typical of the detailed degree of his authorial involvement." ("Looking at the birth of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice,' 150 years old", New York Times, June 25, 2015)

    My first thought was a mistake for, or the origin of, the phrase I know: "to ride hard on somebody", which I understand as meaning "to keep the pressure on someone, often mercilessly, to get the work done". But maybe I have adopted this as an eggcorn.

    June 27, 2015