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[sey-ber-rat-ling] /ˈseɪ bərˌræt lɪŋ/
a show or threat of military power, especially as used by a nation to impose its policies on other countries.
Origin of saber-rattling
First recorded in 1920-25; See origin at saber, rattle1, -ing1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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saber rattling

A flamboyant display of military power; also, aggressive blustering. For example, There had been a great deal of saber rattling between the two nations but hostilities had never broken out. This term, originating about 1920 and alluding to an officer indicating he would draw his saber, at first referred to threatening military force but later was extended to more general use, as in Both candidates engaged in pre-debate saber rattling.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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