big tent


Definition of big tent

: a widely inclusive composition or character that allows people of differing backgrounds, opinions, and interests to be members of a group or organization (such as a political party)
  • … Democratic talk of a big tent was becoming alarmingly familiar as the Party dealt with what amounted to a case of “values” shock—the post-election impression that Democrats keep losing because they have lost touch with mainstream American values.
  • —Peter J. BoyerNew Yorker14 Nov. 2005
  • I feel very comfortable in the Republican tent. It's a big tent. It goes all the way from the right, all the way crossing the center line.
  • —Arnold SchwarzeneggerPBS Newshour22 June 2007
  • We have big arguments within the party because we got a big tent
  • —Barack Obamaquoted in Rolling Stone14 Oct. 2010
also : a group or organization that has a widely inclusive composition or character
  • When the parties were big tents, you had to make deals within your party in order to govern.
  • —William SchneiderCNN24 May 2001
  • … Orthodox Judaism is a big tent that includes both fundamentalists and nonfundamentalists …
  • —Alan RederYoga JournalJuly 2001
  • Irvin and his writers realize that pop music is an awfully big tent, one where greatness can be bestowed not only on the sublime … but on the ridiculous …
  • —Bradley BambargerBillboard28 July 2001


    • … a new big-tent party that could thrive as ethnic and racial minorities become a majority of the electorate.
    • —Nicholas ConfessoreNew York Times Book Review15 Oct. 2006
    • Thrilled as they may still be with their victory, many Democrats are now realizing that … their future depends on a tricky proposition: actually becoming the centrist, big-tent party they've spent two years claiming to be.
    • —Jonathan Darman et al.Newsweek20 Nov. 2006
    • The label's roster illustrates how country music has become the big-tent genre that rock used to be …
    • —Louis HauBillboard12 Dec. 2009
    • Instead, MTV is adopting a big-tent strategy—attempting to practice the musical politics of inclusion by embracing an increasingly wide range of music at the same time.
    • —David WildRolling Stone6 Feb. 1997

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