bully pulpit


Definition of bully pulpit

: a prominent public position (such as a political office) that provides an opportunity for expounding one's views also : such an opportunity

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Bully vs Bully Pulpit

Bully pulpit comes from the 26th U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, who observed that the White House was a bully pulpit. For Roosevelt, bully was an adjective meaning "excellent" or "first-rate"—not the noun bully ("a blustering, browbeating person") that's so common today. Roosevelt understood the modern presidency's power of persuasion and recognized that it gave the incumbent the opportunity to exhort, instruct, or inspire. He took full advantage of his bully pulpit, speaking out about the danger of monopolies, the nation's growing role as a world power, and other issues important to him. Since the 1970s, bully pulpit has been used as a term for an office—especially a political office—that provides one with the opportunity to share one's views.

Examples of bully pulpit in a Sentence

She uses her position as a famous actress as a bully pulpit.
Recent Examples on the Web His ability to speak and make the nation listen did not make the cops listen—which should tell you something about the limitations of the bully pulpit. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Political Elites’ Pointless Calls for More Leadership," 1 June 2020 But rarely has an American family, all private citizens, had to endure having their personal pain weaponized by someone with the unchecked bully pulpit of the president of the United States. Patricia Mazzei, BostonGlobe.com, "How Trump’s tweets cause collateral damage for families already in pain," 30 May 2020 President Trump's use of the bully pulpit to defy his own government's advice on face coverings has turned into the era's latest ideologically-motivated assault on science and civility. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, May 27," 27 May 2020 My concern is, the president has a big bully pulpit ... Jonathan Lemire, BostonGlobe.com, "My ‘decision to make’: Trump defends criticized use of drug," 19 May 2020 Episodes aired daily during the trial, giving Scrushy a bully pulpit. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Richard Scrushy gets his day in court (again!) on Netflix’s ‘Trial by Media’," 14 May 2020 Peter Moskos, a Baltimore City police officer from 1999 to 2000 who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said whoever succeeds Cummings will have a bully pulpit to denounce people who disparage the city. Jenna Portnoy, Washington Post, "They are running for Congress. But their focus is on Baltimore.," 1 Feb. 2020 And that is an important part of the presidency—the bully pulpit. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The power to order people to stay at home belongs to states, not the president," 13 Apr. 2020 At the helm of the government was a president with a bully pulpit, ready to upend things. Liza Mundy, The Atlantic, "The Woman Who Made Modern Journalism," 29 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bully pulpit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bully pulpit

1963, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of bully pulpit was in 1963

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Last Updated

17 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bully pulpit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bully%20pulpit. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for bully pulpit

bully pulpit


English Language Learners Definition of bully pulpit

US : an important public position that allows a person to express beliefs and opinions to many people

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