English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Authority - Power
|big fish in a small pond||This term refers to
an important or highly-ranked person in a
small group or organisation.
He could get a job with a big company but he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.
|bring to heel||
If you force someone to behave in a
disciplined manner, you bring them to
The boy had always behaved badly, but the new headmaster managed to bring him to heel.
|bulldoze into doing||A person who is
bulldozed into doing something is
forced to do it, especially by being bullied
The immigrants we bulldozed into accepting the work.
|call the shots/the tune||The person who calls the shots
or the tune
is the one who makes all the important
decisions and is in control of the
He shows a lot of authority but in fact it's his wife who calls the tune.
|carry weight||If a person or organisation carries
weight, they are influential or
I'm glad she's on our side - her opinion carries a lot of weight.
|too many chiefs, not enough Indians||This expression refers to a situation
where there are too many people giving
instructions and not enough people doing the
The business wasn't successful. There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
|corridors of power||This term refers to the higher levels of
government or administration where important
decisions are made.
The matter is the subject of much discussion in the corridors of power at the present time.
|crack the whip||If you crack the whip, you use
your authority to make someone obey you or
work more efficiently, usually by
Every so often I'll crack the whip to make sure we meet the deadline.
|dance to someone's tune||If you dance to someone's tune,
you do whatever that person tells you to do.
He is the company's major shareholder so the management has to dance to his tune.
|draw a line in the sand||If you draw a line in the sand,
you establish a limit beyond which a certain
situation or activity will not be accepted.
That's it! We're going to draw a line in the sand and make this our final proposal.
|force someone's hand||If you force someone's hand,
you make them do something unwillingly or
sooner than planned.
The interviewer forced Brad's hand and made him reveal his relocation plans.
|friends in high places||If you know important or influential
people in business or government, you have
friends in high places.
He wouldn't have succeeded without help from friends in high places.
get/have by the short hairs
(or:by the short and curlies)
|If you get or have someone by the
short hairs, you put them in a
difficult situation from which they cannot
escape, so you have complete control over
They are in no position to refuse; we've got them by the short hairs!
|with a heavy hand||Dealing with or treating people with a
means acting with discipline and severity,
with little or no sensitivity.
He ran the juvenile delinquent centre with a heavy hand.
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