27 Idioms for Power: Meanings and Usage


These idioms provide colorful expressions to describe situations where someone holds authority, control, or influence.

So, let’s look at these idioms for power, decode their meanings, and see how they can be used in everyday conversations.

If you want to explore more creative comparisons for power, you can find metaphors for power here: Metaphors for Power. Additionally, for comparisons using “like” or “as,” you can check out similes for power here: Similes for Power.

What is an Idiom for Power?

An idiom for power is a phrase or expression that conveys the idea of authority, control, or influence in a figurative manner.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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What is a simile?

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Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

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What is a metaphor?

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Which of the following is a metaphor?

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What is an idiom?

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What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

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What is an adjective?

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Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

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What is an abbreviation?

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What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

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What is a verb?

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Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

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“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

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Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

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Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

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What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

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“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

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Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

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These idioms use words and phrases that may not have a literal connection to power but are commonly understood to represent it in a specific context.

Let’s break down each of the idioms related to power and explore their meanings and usage.

IdiomMeaningExample Sentence
Rule with an iron fistTo rule with strictness and authorityThe dictator ruled his country with an iron fist.
Hold all the cardsTo have complete control over a situationSarah held all the cards during the negotiation.
Pull the stringsTo secretly control or manipulate from behind the scenesThe powerful businessman was known for pulling the strings.
In the driver’s seatTo be in control of a situationEmily found herself in the driver’s seat of the project.
Have the upper handTo be in a superior position with an advantageThe home team had the upper hand in the championship game.
Call the shotsTo make important decisions and be in controlThe CEO calls the shots in the company.
Wear the pantsTo be the dominant figure in a relationshipMark’s wife wears the pants in their partnership.
Hold the reinsTo be in control or have authorityAlex held the reins as the project manager.
Hold swayTo have influence or control over people or situationsThe speaker held sway over the audience with his words.
Wield influenceTo have the power to affect decisions or actionsThe diplomat knew how to wield influence in negotiations.
Hold the keyTo possess knowledge or controlSarah held the key to the encrypted file.
Be in controlTo have authority for managing a situationThe captain needed to be in control during the crisis.
Have the final sayTo have the ultimate authorityThe judge had the final say in the courtroom.
Hold the purse stringsTo control finances or budgetRachel held the purse strings of the company.
Be in the hot seatTo be in a position of extreme pressure or scrutinyThe CEO was in the hot seat during the crisis.
Have a tight gripTo have firm controlThe coach had a tight grip on the team’s training.
Be the bossTo be the person in charge or leaderJames aspired to be the boss of his own company.
Be at the helmTo be in a leadership positionCaptain Smith was at the helm of the ship.
Be at the top of the food chainTo be the highest-ranking or most influentialIn the tech world, Apple is at the top of the food chain.
Be the master of one’s domainTo have control and authoritySarah was the master of her domain in the kitchen.
Have a sayTo have the opportunity to express an opinionEveryone in the meeting had a say in the new office layout.
Be in the catbird seatTo be in an advantageous positionSarah felt like she was in the catbird seat with her new job.
Be the big cheeseTo be the most important or influentialThe CEO was the big cheese at the conference.
Be the top dogTo be the highest-ranking or most powerfulJohn aspired to be the top dog in his firm.
Be the head honchoTo be the highest-ranking or most importantLisa was the head honcho of the company.
Have the might of a lionTo possess great strength, power, or influenceThe military had the might of a lion, deterring threats.
Be the powerhouseTo be a source of immense energy, influence, or capabilityTesla is the powerhouse of the electric vehicle industry.
idioms for power

Idioms for Power

1. Rule with an iron fist

Meaning: To rule or govern with strictness and authority, often using harsh methods.

In a Sentence: The dictator ruled his country with an iron fist, suppressing any form of dissent.

2. Hold all the cards

Meaning: To have complete control over a situation, giving you an advantage.

In a Sentence: Sarah held all the cards during the negotiation, making it impossible for the opposing party to get what they wanted.

3. Pull the strings

Meaning: To secretly control or manipulate a situation or people from behind the scenes.

In a Sentence: The powerful businessman was known for pulling the strings in the political arena to protect his interests.

4. In the driver’s seat

Meaning: To be in control or in charge of a situation.

In a Sentence: After months of hard work, Emily found herself in the driver’s seat of the project, ready to lead her team to success.

5. Have the upper hand

Meaning: To be in a superior position with an advantage over others.

In a Sentence: Despite the challenges, the home team had the upper hand in the championship game.

6. Call the shots

Meaning: To make the important decisions and be in control of a situation.

In a Sentence: In this company, the CEO calls the shots and sets the direction for the entire organization.

7. Wear the pants

Meaning: To be the dominant or decision-making figure in a relationship or situation, often used to refer to a woman in control.

In a Sentence: In their partnership, it’s clear that Mark’s wife wears the pants and makes most of the decisions.

8. Hold the reins

Meaning: To be in control or have authority over a situation, similar to being in command.

In a Sentence: As the project manager, Alex held the reins and guided the team towards their goals.

9. Hold sway

Meaning: To have influence or control over people or situations.

In a Sentence: The charismatic speaker held sway over the audience, inspiring them with his words.

10. Wield influence

Meaning: To have the power to affect decisions or actions through one’s opinions or actions.

In a Sentence: The experienced diplomat knew how to wield influence to ensure peaceful negotiations.

11. Hold the key

Meaning: To possess the knowledge or control needed to solve a problem or unlock a situation.

In a Sentence: Sarah held the key to the encrypted file, which contained vital information.

12. Be in control

Meaning: To have the authority and responsibility for managing a situation.

In a Sentence: During the crisis, it was crucial for the captain to be in control of the ship.

13. Have the final say

Meaning: To have the ultimate authority or the right to make the last decision.

In a Sentence: The judge had the final say in the courtroom, ensuring justice was served.

14. Hold the purse strings

Meaning: To control the finances or budget of an organization or household.

In a Sentence: As the CFO, Rachel held the purse strings of the company, carefully managing its finances.

15. Be in the hot seat

Meaning: To be in a position of extreme pressure or scrutiny, often due to a difficult or important task.

In a Sentence: The CEO was in the hot seat as the company faced a public relations crisis.

16. Have a tight grip

Meaning: To have firm control over something.

In a Sentence: The coach had a tight grip on the team’s training regimen, ensuring they were always at their best.

17. Be the boss

Meaning: To be the person in charge or the leader of a group or organization.

In a Sentence: James aspired to be the boss of his own company, with full control over its operations.

18. Be at the helm

Meaning: To be in a position of leadership or control, often used in nautical terms.

In a Sentence: Captain Smith was at the helm of the ship, steering it through rough waters.

19. Be at the top of the food chain

Meaning: To be the highest-ranking or most influential figure in a group or industry.

In a Sentence: In the tech world, Apple is at the top of the food chain, setting trends for others to follow.

20. Be the master of one’s domain

Meaning: To have complete control and authority within one’s area of responsibility.

In a Sentence: As the head chef, Sarah was the master of her domain in the kitchen, creating exquisite dishes.

21. Have a say

Meaning: To have the opportunity to express one’s opinion or influence a decision.

In a Sentence: Everyone in the meeting had a say in the new office layout, sharing their ideas and concerns.

22. Be in the catbird seat

Meaning: To be in an advantageous or enviable position.

In a Sentence: Sarah felt like she was in the catbird seat when she landed her dream job.

23. Be the big cheese

Meaning: To be the most important or influential person in a group or situation.

In a Sentence: At the conference, the CEO was the big cheese, attracting attention from all participants.

24. Be the top dog

Meaning: To be the highest-ranking or most powerful individual in a group.

In a Sentence: In the competitive world of finance, John aspired to be the top dog in his firm.

25. Be the head honcho

Meaning: To be the highest-ranking or most important person in a group or organization.

In a Sentence: As the head honcho of the company, Lisa had to make crucial decisions for its future.

26. Have the might of a lion

Meaning: To possess great strength, power, or influence.

In a Sentence: The country’s military had the might of a lion, deterring any potential threats.

27. Be the powerhouse

Meaning: To be a source of immense energy, influence, or capability.

In a Sentence: Tesla’s innovation and technology make it the powerhouse of the electric vehicle industry.

Here are 10 quiz questions related to the idioms mentioned in the article:

  1. What does the idiom “Rule with an iron fist” mean?
    a) To rule with kindness
    b) To rule with strictness and authority
    c) To rule with flexibility
  2. What does the idiom “Hold all the cards” signify?
    a) Having no control over a situation
    b) Having complete control over a situation
    c) Playing cards for fun
  3. What does it mean to “Pull the strings” in an idiom?
    a) To reveal a secret
    b) To secretly control or manipulate a situation
    c) To tie shoelaces
  4. If someone is “In the driver’s seat,” what does it imply?
    a) They are not in control
    b) They are in control of a situation
    c) They are driving a car
  5. What does the idiom “Have the upper hand” mean?
    a) Having no advantage
    b) Having a disadvantage
    c) Having an advantage
  6. If you “Call the shots,” what does it mean?
    a) To take random decisions
    b) To make important decisions and be in control
    c) To play a game of pool
  7. What does it mean when someone “Wears the pants” in a relationship?
    a) They like wearing fashionable pants
    b) They are the dominant figure in the relationship
    c) They don’t like pants
  8. If you “Hold sway,” what do you do?
    a) Hold a dance party
    b) Have influence or control over people or situations
    c) Stay silent
  9. What does “Be at the top of the food chain” signify?
    a) To be a vegetarian
    b) To be the most influential or highest-ranking in a group or industry
    c) To be a chef
  10. What does the idiom “Be the powerhouse” mean?
    a) To be a weak source of energy
    b) To be a source of immense energy, influence, or capability
    c) To be a small electrical generator

Feel free to use these quiz questions to test someone’s knowledge of idioms for power!

Conclusion

Idioms for power add color and depth to our language. They offer a unique way to describe situations where someone is in control, authoritative, or influential.

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