carry a big stick

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carry a big stick

To 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
"The executive power has already been wielded by one head: the Prime Ministry, but only through consensus with Ennahdha," he said in his speech Wednesday at the Palace of Carthage, on the celebration of the 63rd anniversary of independence.
Yet, especially concerning the Third World states, security cannot conceptually be confined to the interests of those who wield political power.
In fact, the FBI couldn't have provided testimony that would stand up in court showing that the Communist Party wielded "substantial influence over Negroes" because it was never true.
It's incumbent upon communicators to strategically engage those audiences in two-way conversation in order to exert the same influence we once wielded with one-way communication tools.
She becomes the Lady of the Lake, the keeper of Excalibur, and Corwin becomes Merlin, waiting for the right human to wield the Farworlder sword.
While Calpers doesn't wield the disciplinary lash of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the stock exchanges, it has a very large checkbook and a considerable voice on corporate governance.
They cannot ignore these multicultural groups, which wield tremendous spending power.
World Heritage Sites wield enormous tourism drawing power.
His feet planted solidly apart, knees bent slightly, the man brandishes the chainsaw like an assassin might wield an AK-47.
He began to shout and threaten the youngsters and started to wield an iron bar, striking it against metal railings.
One refugee spaceship's voyage casts it amid a horrifying eugenics project, and eventually leads its survivors to a world scarred by the ravages of the Tauron Occupation--a planet controlled by a "same-gender-oriented-society" where homosexual Echelons wield power and heterosexual "Reproductionists" are persecuted.
The switching of the electronic state of an individual atom is not only a demonstration of the exquisite control over matter that scientists now wield but could also lead to new ways of encoding data for making ultrahigh-density memory chips.
At that time their behavior was less dangerous because they didn't yet wield the enormous computer and communications power.
But the DPP, allied with the ruling Liberal Party, has begun to wield significant influence in the new government, which has proposed legislation to trim the number of refugees accepted and to cut back on benefits offered to newcomers.
And while a dominant personality may be necessary in certain situations, a less forceful demeanor can also wield influence.