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call off the dogs



call off the dogs (third-person singular simple present calls off the dogs, present participle calling off the dogs, simple past and past participle called off the dogs)

  1. (idiomatic) To ease up on after inflicting great punishment.
  2. (sports, idiomatic) During a one-sided sports contest, to remove the first-string unit of a team from the game after dominating the opponent.
    Doing the opponents an obvious favor, the football coach decided to call off the dogs early after his team was up 56-0.