Politics makes strange bedfellows

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Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


What does politics makes strange bedfellows mean?

Politics makes strange bedfellows means that a shared political interest can bring together people who would normally have nothing in common, as in The pro-gun lobby and the anti-gun organization both opposed the gun bill, which shows you that politics makes strange bedfellows. 

An example of politics making strange bedfellows would be a proposal to build a wildlife reserve that is supported both by environmentalists (because it would help endangered animals) and big business (because it would bring in tourist money). Normally, these two groups would have little in common and would usually oppose each other. Here they are united by their support of a political issue, although for different reasons.

Example: The tax reform bill was sponsored by both the senator and her most hated rival. You know what they say: Politics makes strange bedfellows! 

Where does politics makes strange bedfellows come from?

The phrase politics makes strange bedfellows is adapted from “Misery acquaints man with strange bedfellows,” which appears in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Shakespeare’s line describes a man taking shelter beside a sleeping sea monster.

Bedfellows means “people who share a bed,” which politics makes strange bedfellows uses figuratively to describe an odd or unusual partnership or association.

You might use politics makes strange bedfellows to refer to politicians from different parties who agree on an issue, different interest groups with little in common who agree on a political topic, and similar situations.

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How is politics makes strange bedfellows used in real life?

Politics makes strange bedfellows is a common phrase used to describe odd or unexpected alliances or agreements caused by a shared political interest.

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True or False?

Politics makes strange bedfellows means that even people who normally have nothing in common may be united by a shared political interest.

How to use Politics makes strange bedfellows in a sentence