pull strings, to
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.
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.
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