driver

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backseat driver

1. A passenger in a vehicle (not necessarily in the backseat) who attempts to instruct the driver or criticize their driving skills. John quickly became annoyed at Mary's tendency to become a backseat driver whenever he drove her somewhere, so he just began to let her drive.
2. By extension, someone who tries to establish and maintain control over every situation. Primarily heard in US. Although Mary was capable of completing the project on her own, John couldn't stop himself from being a backseat driver and telling her what to do.
See also: backseat, driver

designated driver

A person who stays sober during a social gathering and is responsible for safely driving others from one location to another. Since Kara never drinks alcohol, she always offers to be the designated driver for her friends.
See also: designate, driver

in the driving seat

In control of a situation; in a position of power. Primarily heard in UK. Make sure to get good grades now, so that you're in the driving seat when it comes time to choose a college. We're still leading in the polls, so nobody panic—we're in the driving seat here.
See also: driving, seat

backseat driver

Fig. an annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive; someone who tells others how to do things. I don't need any backseat driver on this project. Stop pestering me with all your advice. Nobody likes a backseat driver!
See also: backseat, driver

in the driver's seat

Fig. in control; in charge of things. (As if one were driving and controlling the vehicle.) Now that Fred is in the driver's seat, there is a lot less criticism about how things are being done. Joan can't wait to get into the driver's seat and do what she can to turn things around.
See also: seat

Sunday driver

a slow and leisurely driver who appears to be sightseeing and enjoying the view, holding up traffic in the process. (Also a term of address.) I'm a Sunday driver, and I'm sorry. I just can't bear to go faster. Move over, you Sunday driver!
See also: driver, Sunday

backseat driver

A passenger who gives unwanted and/or unneeded directions to the driver; also, a person who interferes in affairs without having knowledge, responsibility, or authority for doing so. For example, Aunt Mary drives us all crazy with her instructions; she's an incurable backseat driver. This term originated in the United States in the 1920s, when it was first used for a passenger legitimately directing a chauffeur, and it was quickly transferred to figurative use. Also see the synonym Monday-morning quarterback and the antonym take a back seat.
See also: backseat, driver

in the driver's seat

Also, in the saddle. In control, in a position of authority. For example, With the boss on vacation, Mr. Burns was in the driver's seat and enjoying it, or She waited until after the election, knowing that she'd be in the saddle then. The first expression dates from the 1800s, the second from the early 1600s. Also see at the helm.
See also: seat

a back-seat driver

COMMON
1. If you call a passenger in a car a back-seat driver, you mean that they keep telling the driver what to do. My mother is a terrible back-seat driver, especially when my sister is at the wheel.
2. If you call someone, especially a politician, a back-seat driver, you mean that they are trying to influence or control a situation that should be controlled by someone else. They accused the former prime minister of being a backseat driver. Note: This expression is used to show disapproval.
See also: driver

in the driving seat

BRITISH or

in the driver's seat

AMERICAN
COMMON If someone is in the driving seat, they have control of a situation. The radicals were in the driving seat, much to the anxiety of the moderates. Howe has warned against Britain not being in the driving seat as Europe takes important decisions. Those who had access to money were in the driver's seat.
See also: driving, seat

a back-seat driver

1 a passenger in a vehicle who constantly gives the driver unwanted advice on how to drive. 2 someone who lectures and criticizes the person actually in control of something.
See also: driver

in the driver's (or driving) seat

in charge of a situation.
1998 Times The deal would propel the no-nonsense Lancastrian into the driving seat at the UK's biggest generator.
See also: seat

a ˌback-seat ˈdriver

(disapproving)
1 a passenger in a vehicle who keeps giving advice to the driver about how he or she should drive
2 a person who wants to be in control of something that is not really their responsibility: There are too many back-seat drivers in this department. This is my project and I’m the one who’s in charge!
See also: driver

in the ˈdriving seat

(British English) (American English in the ˈdriver’s seat) managing or controlling something, for example a business: With a younger person in the driving seat, we can expect some big changes in the company. OPPOSITE: take a back seat
See also: driving, seat

backseat driver

n. an annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive; someone who tells others how to do things. I don’t need any backseat driver on this project.
See also: backseat, driver

in the driver’s seat

mod. in control. I’m in the driver’s seat now, and I get to decide who gets raises.
See also: seat

Sunday driver

n. a slow and leisurely driver who appears to be sightseeing and enjoying the view, holding up traffic in the process. (Also a term of address.) Move over, you Sunday driver!
See also: driver, Sunday
References in classic literature ?
Gordon or John, or in fact any good driver, had been there, he would have seen that something was wrong before I had gone three paces.
When he was gone my driver began to flop the reins about and whip the harness, by which I understood that I was to go on, which of course I did, glad that the stone was gone, but still in a good deal of pain.
Yes," said Big Toomai, his driver, the son of Black Toomai who had taken him to Abyssinia, and grandson of Toomai of the Elephants who had seen him caught, "there is nothing that the Black Snake fears except me.
One night he slid down from the post and slipped in between the elephants and threw up the loose end of a rope, which had dropped, to a driver who was trying to get a purchase on the leg of a kicking young calf (calves always give more trouble than full-grown animals).
Then, as we flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness.
Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up.
The black driver grins again, but there is another hole, and beyond that, another bank, close before us.
This is no matter of relief or self-congratulation to the driver, for his immovable philosophy is perfectly undisturbed by anything that happens in the coach.
Forth trundled the cab into the Christmas streets, the fare within plunged in the blackness of a despair that neighboured on unconsciousness, the driver on the box digesting his rebuke and his customer's duplicity.
If you'll no' STAND me a dram,' said the driver, with a well-merited severity of tone and manner, 'I dare say ye'll have no objection to my taking one mysel'?
said Julia, as she stood looking at the driver tottering under the weight of the trunks.
The driver instituted, with the palms of his hands, a superficial perquisition into the state of his skeleton; which seemed to make him anxious.
He always falls down when he's took out o' the cab,' continued the driver, 'but when he's in it, we bears him up werry tight, and takes him in werry short, so as he can't werry well fall down; and we've got a pair o' precious large wheels on, so ven he does move, they run after him, and he must go on--he can't help it.
We might have spared one neck out of the three," muttered the driver, rubbing his ear and pulling his nose, to ascertain whether he had been cuffed or not.
I had forgotten the driver," said Miss Bartlett, reddening.