Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
pull (some/a few) strings
To use the power or influence one has over others, especially people of importance, to get what one wants or to help someone else. I hear that the only reason Johnny got into college was because his dad pulled some strings with the president of the university. I actually know a few people who work at the restaurant, so I'll see if I can pull a few strings and get you a table. You wait and see, he's going to start pulling strings to get this police investigation quashed.
pull (some) stringsand pull a few strings
to use influence (with someone to get something done). I can get it done easily by pulling a few strings. Is it possible to get anything done around here without pulling some strings?
Also, pull wires. Use one's influence, as in By pulling strings he got us house seats to the opening, or His father pulled some wires and got him out of jail. Both terms allude to manipulating a marionette. The first dates from the second half of the 1800s, the second from the early 1800s.
COMMON If someone pulls strings to get something they want, they get it by using their friendships with powerful people, often in a way which is unfair. It was felt that her father was pulling strings to advance her career. She knows a lot of people in the theatre so she's usually able to pull a few strings if there are any tickets she wants. Note: You can also talk about string-pulling. He got his job back, thanks to some string-pulling by a major Hollywood power player — who happens to be his girlfriend's father.
pull stringsmake use of your influence and contacts to gain an advantage unofficially or unfairly.
An American variant of this expression is pull wires: the image here and in the next idiom is of a puppeteer manipulating a marionette by means of its strings.
1998 New Scientist Behind the scenes, there is invariably a democratic government or two pulling strings to keep the cigarette barons in power.