To use personal connections to obtain a position: “Pat was officially interviewed for the job, but he also had his uncle pulling strings behind the scenes.” This phrase makes reference to the operation of string-controlled puppets, or marionettes.
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Words nearby pull strings
Idioms and Phrases with pull 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.