View synonyms for saber-rattling


[ sey-ber-rat-ling ]


  1. a show or threat of military power, especially as used by a nation to impose its policies on other countries.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of saber-rattling1

First recorded in 1920–25; saber, rattle 1, -ing 1
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Idioms and Phrases

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 .
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Example Sentences

Indeed, saber-rattling or not, we should take Ryan seriously.

It also may explain why there was no saber rattling on Syria on Sunday.

“This is saber-rattling à la North Korea,” he said in a television interview.

And Obama has worked to push American foreign policy beyond Carterite apologetics or Bushesque saber-rattling.

Sanctions and saber-rattling alone were never going to do the trick, nor would periodic efforts at one-shot diplomacy.

Burnside seeing us, came up on the porch, his big spurs and saber rattling as he walked.

He strode up and down the floor, his spurs tinkling and his saber rattling harshly.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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