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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 driver's seat

In control; in a dominant or influential position. With the new CEO in the driver's seat, the company has turned in its most profitable quarter in years.
See also: seat

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

Sunday driver

An aggravatingly slow driver. Likened to one out for a leisurely "Sunday drive." For the most part, I like the relaxed attitude down here. But I absolutely detest all the Sunday drivers on the road! It took me nearly an extra hour to get home because I got stuck behind some Sunday driver.
See also: driver, Sunday
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

backseat driver

A passenger who gives unasked-for and usually unwanted advice to the driver of a vehicle; by extension, anyone who interferes without having real responsibility or authority. The term originated in the United States during the 1920s, when many automobiles were chauffeur-driven and their passengers sat in the backseat, often quite legitimately telling the chauffeur where to go. Today the passenger’s location is irrelevant, the term being principally figurative. It has largely replaced the older armchair general. See also Monday-morning quarterback and the very different take a backseat.
See also: backseat, driver

in the driver's seat

In control. The analogy here is obvious, but the actual expression did not become common until the nineteenth century. Lord Beaverbrook is quoted (New Statesman, 1963) as saying of David Lloyd George, “He did not care in which direction the car was travelling, so long as he remained in the driver’s seat.” See also in the saddle.
See also: seat
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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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.
"He's a hired horse," said my driver. "I don't know what's the matter with him, but it is a great shame to send out a lame beast like this."
But he held out till camp was reached, when his driver made a place for him by the fire.
And at last, when the flames died down, and the red light of the logs made the elephants look as though they had been dipped in blood too, Machua Appa, the head of all the drivers of all the Keddahs--Machua Appa, Petersen Sahib's other self, who had never seen a made road in forty years: Machua Appa, who was so great that he had no other name than Machua Appa,--leaped to his feet, with Little Toomai held high in the air above his head, and shouted: "Listen, my brothers.
"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.
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.
He will now come on to Bukovina, and return tomorrow or the next day, better the next day." Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up.
A black friend of the black driver is sitting on a fence.
The black driver grins again, but there is another hole, and beyond that, another bank, close before us.
The driver, on the other hand, was pleased to drop again upon so liberal a fare; and as he was a man - the reader must already have perceived - of easy, not to say familiar, manners, he dropped at once into a vein of friendly talk, commenting on the weather, on the sacred season, which struck him chiefly in the light of a day of liberal gratuities, on the chance which had reunited him to a pleasing customer, and on the fact that John had been (as he was pleased to call it) visibly 'on the randan' the night before.
In short, his whole attire was that of a common driver of a hack carriage; and no one who had not previously received an intimation that his character was different from his appearance, would at all have suspected the deception.
'It is,' replied the driver, rubbing himself as if he ached, after throwing the reins to the ostler.
'Forty-two,' replied the driver, eyeing him askant.
Don't take this little accident too much to heart, good driver. We ought to be thankful that none of our necks are broken."
"I had forgotten the driver," said Miss Bartlett, reddening.