carry a big stick

carry a big stick

Be prepared for confrontation by displaying one's power, especially elements of force. The phrase is a shortened version of "speak softly and carry a big stick," which was popularized by US President Theodore Roosevelt in a 1903 speech. The notion that you have to carry a big stick to be a player on the world stage is hopefully coming to an end.
See also: big, carry, stick

carry a big stick

or

wield a big stick

If someone carries a big stick or wields a big stick, they have a lot of power, and so they can get what they want. Supermarkets these days carry a big stick and farmers have very little power to negotiate prices. The company wields a big stick. It is the biggest brand in the world and now controls 44 per cent of the global market. Note: Big stick is used in many other structures with a similar meaning. They wanted peace, he said, but this big stick policy was forcing them into war. Compare with carrot and stick. Note: This expression comes from a saying which became widely known through a speech made by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903: `There is a homely old adage which runs, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."'
See also: big, carry, stick
References in periodicals archive ?
Its nickname comes from Roosevelt's comment that in diplomacy you should "talk softly but carry a big stick".
Living Peace: carry a big stick John Dear, S.J., Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action, New York: Doubleday, 2001, pp.
If you want peace, an American saying puts it, walk softly, but carry a big stick.
"Teddy Roosevelt said, `Speak softly and carry a big stick,'" said Democratic Sen.
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