rattle saber

rattle (one's) saber

To make aggressive, blustering, and typically empty threats. I'd like to think that his threats of nuclear extermination are just him rattling his saber, but I'm not too sure anymore. The boss just likes to rattle her saber every now and then to make herself feel powerful.
See also: rattle, saber

rattle one's saber

 and rattle its saber
Fig. to make threatening statements or actions. The president is just rattling his saber. He would never attack such a small country!
See also: rattle, saber
References in periodicals archive ?
Like Trump, who has refused to rattle sabers against Putin, Hearst was soft on Russia, boldly advocating recognition of the Bolshevik government in the 1920s.
It is not the first time that the Israeli military has used information technology to rattle sabers on Hezbollah's alleged military preparations in south Lebanon.
For a government that loves to rattle sabers and bully its neighbors, Israel is mighty thin-skinned when it comes to a few words against its policy.
As the two sides continue to rattle sabers, this book appears quite timely.
Parliamentary backbenchers, retired military officers and newspaper commentators often rattle sabers against Iran.
ElBaradei, 66, cut a high political profile in the post by urging big powers to engage rather than isolate or, in the case of hawks in the former Bush administration, rattle sabers with Iran.
While some of the CFR's leading experts continue to rattle sabers and appear to be beating war drums, the dominant strain in the council's media chorus is sounding the siren song of "new thinking" concerning our relationship with Tehran.
If that sounds cynical, it's because anyone who follows the issue has seen politicians rattle sabers and declare victory many times before.
China likes to rattle sabers over the island it views as a breakaway province, periodically threatening to crush Taiwan with its overwhelmingly superior military forces.
can rattle sabers well enough, but stop at the brink when appropriate--machismo doesn't have to rule.