What Does Get Off Your High Horse Mean?

Get Off Your High Horse Meaning

Definition: Don’t act so arrogant.

A similar expression is get off your pedestal.

Origin of Get Off Your High Horse

The term high horse originated around the year 1380. One of the earliest sources is John Wyclif’s English Works:

  • Ye emperour… made hym & his cardenals ride in reed on hye ors.

The phrase refers to a large horse, often a warhorse. Those with military or political power would often choose the biggest horses to ride, in a display of their power.

Because this height put them physically high above the crowds, people began to use this metaphorically. Metaphorical expressions like get off your high horse developed later, some in the latter half of the 1700s and into the 1800s.

Examples of Get Off Your High Horse

get off her high horse The dialogue below shows two friends talking about a homeless person they passed on the street.

Giuseppe: May, look at that pathetic man over there.

May: Are you talking about that homeless man?

Giuseppe: Yes. I think it’s ridiculous that he would let himself exist in such a condition. He should get a job and stop mooching off of other people! I would never do something like that.

May: I never realized you felt this way about homeless people. He may have a mental illness or some other problem that is preventing him from keeping a job.

Giuseppe: There’s no excuse good enough for homelessness.

May: Oh come on. What would you know about it? You come from a rich family. And a lot of homeless people are children. Did you know over 2 million children were homeless at some point over the last year in our country? Get off your high horse.

Giuseppe: Sorry! I didn’t mean to offend you.

get off your high horse quotes In the dialogue below, a father and his daughter are arguing about a broken plate that the father found.

Rafal: Vesna, I found something else that your dog broke! Did you think you could hide this plate in the back of my own office, and that I would never find it?

Vesna: What plate?

Rafal: This plate! I’m so sick of your dog breaking things. I’m sending him back to the humane society.

Vesna: Ha! This plate? You broke this plate yourself, remember? It was on my birthday last year, and you put it in your office to fix it. I guess you forgot about. So you can just get off your high horse, because my dog has broken fewer plates than you have.

Rafal: Oh, whoops. My mistake. Sorry about that!

More Examples

This excerpt is about refugees who are struggling to find work in their new country.

“And he’s going to make me his errand boy,” Kanjon complains.

“Get off your high horse,” Tarifi cries out. “My first job in America was flipping burgers for $4 an hour! This guy is going to take you under his wing.” –LA Times

The second excerpt is from an advice column.

  • I think you were way too hard on the young man who said his 30-year-old girlfriend’s lack of retirement savings was a potential deal breaker. You told him to get off his high horse. He was just being prudent. –LA Times

Summary

The phrase get off your high horse means don’t act like you are better than others.