an abundance; a body of armed men; a fighting force; a large quantity, a great number—Johnson. 1755.
Examples. power of angels; of followers; of good, 1770; of goods (provisions); of horsemen, 1553; of fine ladies, 1706; of laymen, 1641; of men of war, 1523; of money, 1680; of poor people, 1661; of servants, 1801; of good things, 1755; of troops; of years.
- About as influential as the ‘p’ in pneumonia and the ‘k’ in knitting —Anon
- Aggressive as an elbow in the side —Henry James
- As omnipotent and as full of faults as Jove —Wallace Stegner
- Authority shrivelled as muslin in a fire —Vita Sackville-West
- Authority without wisdom is like a heavy ax without an edge, fitter to bruise than to polish —Anne Bradstreet
- Compelling as a gun at your head —Anon
- [Choice to do something] compelling as the sense of vocation which doctors and missionaries are supposed to experience —John Braine
- (He is) consuming … like a candle —Richard Flecknoe
- Feel like a lion in a den of Daniels —W. S. Gilbert
- Strong [a person’s pull on others] as a riptide —Reynolds Price
- Glows with power like a successful shaman —Marge Piercy
- Had a ring of authority, like monarchy —Barbara Lazear Ascher
- Immoderate power, like other intemperance, leaves the progeny weaker and weaker, until Nature, as [if] in compassion, covers it with her mantle and is seen no more —Walter Savage Landor
- Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you’ve got —Andrew Young
- Influential as gnats —Susan Heller Anderson
- It’s like a Dead Sea fruit. When you achieve it, there is nothing there —Harold Macmillan, Parade. July 7, 1963
- Like wealth and power, prestige tends to be cumulative: the more of it you have, the more you can get —C. Wright Mills
- Made him fetch and carry just as if he was a great Newfoundland dog —William Makepeace Thackeray
- (But her looks have) no power over me … like a tug on a tree on a limb that has lost feeling —William Getz
- Once a man of power, always a man of power. Like being a Boy Scout —Anthony Powell
- (Memories … ) powerful as floods —Elizabeth Spencer
- Power [in the Middle East] gravitates towards radicals like iron filings toward a magnet —Karen Elliott House
- Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whatever it touches —Percy Bysshe Shelley
’Whatever’ replaces the old English ‘whate’er.’
is the fruit of labors, the price of courage —Voltaire
Rusk used this image to compare Lyndon Johnson’s control over the White House staff to Ronald Reagan’s delegation of power.
come on like gangbusters To burst upon the scene with noisy exuberance; to come on with great power or force; to be officious or overbearing at first meeting. This expression derives from the blaring sound effects that opened a 1936 radio program called Gangbusters. These included the sounds of marching feet, machine-gun fire, and a screaming siren.
money talks Wealth means power; almost anything can be secured with money. This expression alludes to the way money and its procurement direct one’s life, as well as to the automatic respect and deference given to the wealthy by the less affluent.
the powers that be The authorities; a group or individual exercising complete control and having the power to make decisions affecting large numbers of people. This phrase is Biblical in origin.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)
It is implied that “the powers that be” are impersonal and inaccessible.
pull rank To make use of one’s higher status in order to obtain a desired objective. This expression originated in the armed forces, where one of subordinate rank must comply absolutely with the orders of a superior. The term is now also applied to civilians, particularly in describing certain employeremployee interactions. In either case, the expression usually suggests the unexpected or unfair use of authority in resolving a dilemma or in demanding submission.
throw one’s weight around To exert one’s influence inappropriately or unfairly, to pull strings; to lord it over subordinates, to pull rank. Weight. meaning ‘power or influence,’ probably derives from the advantage of added pounds or extra weight in contact sports.