pull strings

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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.
See also: pull, string
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

pull (some) strings

 and 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?
See also: pull, string
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pull 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.
See also: pull, string
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.

pull strings

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.
See also: pull, string
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

pull strings

make 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.
See also: pull, string
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

pull ˈstrings (for somebody)

(American English also pull ˈwires) (informal) use your influence in order to get an advantage for somebody: She doesn’t want me to pull any strings for her; she says she prefers to be offered a place on her own merit.I’m sure his uncle in the BBC must have pulled strings for him.
See also: pull, string
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

pull strings, to

To exert behind-the-scenes influence. The term comes from puppetry: puppets or marionettes are manipulated by means of strings or wires held by the puppetmaster. It was transferred to politics by 1860, when Bishop William Stubbs wrote (Lectures on the Study of History), “A king who pulled the strings of government.”
See also: pull, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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IAN MORAN earned his nickname from a famous kids' TV puppet show - now he's ready to pull strings for the Saltires.
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Bosses at public affairs giant Bell Pottinger were also filmed boasting that they could get the PM and his team to pull strings for clients.
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