Posted by R. Berg on November 11, 2007
In Reply to: Pull in the wagon posted by Smokey Stover on November 11, 2007
: : : "No matter how busy and varied your schedule is during the day, you absolutely need some stress-free time during the evening to pull in the wagons and create a sense of peace, tranquility and security."
: : : What is the origin of this expression and its meaning?
: : Well, since nobody more authoritative has replied, I would say that it's a reference to the wagon trains of pioneers that crossed 19th-century America. Every evening at the end of the day's journey they would pull in the wagons, to camp for the night and rest. (VSD)
: You are probably right, as the expression is used figuratively to mean what the quoted phrase above suggests. I can imagine pulling the wagons into the barn or pulling them into camp. I can imagine pioneers pulling them into a defensive circle. But to me the transition from any of the literal uses of the phrase to the figurative meanings like the one quoted is unpersuasive. The emotional content of the quoted phrase seems lacking in the the kind of activity inherent in the phrase "pull in the wagons." It COULD be associated with bringing the work day to a close; or it COULD be associated with preparing for attack.
This isn't a common phrase; I've never seen it before. The writer of the quoted sentence may have made it up as an original way of saying "come to a stop, take a rest from trying to get somewhere." ~rb