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

And while no President can amend the Constitution alone, having a President use the bully pulpit to call for one more state to push the ERA over the line could get the job done at last. Chloe Angyal, Marie Claire, "Kamala Harris Says It’s Time To Make Women Full Citizens At Last," 27 Feb. 2019 The president, with an unrivaled bully pulpit, has instituted policies that provide him a near-perfect message for those tasks. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Failure to Communicate," 2 Aug. 2018 Pfizer’s move Tuesday was the first clear example of Trump successfully using the bully pulpit to shame a drug maker into doing something that is ostensibly against its own interests. Erin Mershon, STAT, "What Pfizer, Trump, and consumers got out of a surprising deal — and what they didn’t," 11 July 2018 Instead of seeking to export this backward sensibility to Holland, Mr. Khan ought to use his bully pulpit to tamp down wild expectations from his people. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Pakistani Prior Restraint in Holland," 6 Sep. 2018 In recent years, veteran politicians supported by public employee unions have held the position, which also oversees the department of education and has a bully pulpit on school issues. Alejandro Lazo, WSJ, "Charters Fight Draws Big Money Into California Schools Chief Race," 4 Nov. 2018 Others say the president has used the bully pulpit to draw significant attention to the nation’s opioid epidemic. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Trump White House is months late on strategy on drugs despite opioid emergency," 27 Apr. 2018 The announcement marked a successful use of the bully pulpit for Trump and a relatively rapid concession by one of the country's largest companies. Damian Paletta, latimes.com, "Pfizer buckles under pressure from Trump, delays drug price increases," 11 July 2018 Yet time and again, the N.F.L. has been cowed by a president willing to use his bully pulpit to win political points and exact a measure of revenge on a league that rejected his efforts to buy a team. Ken Belson, New York Times, "The N.F.L. Still Has a Trump Problem," 5 June 2018

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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Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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The first known use of bully pulpit was in 1963

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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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Comments on bully pulpit

What made you want to look up bully pulpit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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