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 his time in office at the White House was a bully pulpit when he said, “I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!” For Roosevelt, bully was an adjective meaning “excellent” or “first-rate”—not today's familiar noun bully referring to an abusive meanie. 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 1960s, bully pulpit has been used as a term for a public position—especially a political office—that provides one with the opportunity to widely 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 Evil Does Not Exist isn’t a political film, but Hamaguchi mounts a bully pulpit. Armond White, National Review, 8 May 2024 And to use America’s precious megaphone, the bully pulpit, to alter or reverse our basic values is equally transformational. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, 6 May 2024 Speaking to more than 200 people on the steps of the South Carolina State Capitol, Harris used her bully pulpit to rev up the crowd. Erin B. Logan, Los Angeles Times, 17 Jan. 2024 Bass will need to keenly utilize the mayoral bully pulpit and other unofficial levers to move the ball forward. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Principal Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, representing the Biden administration, said government officials have long-standing authority to use the bully pulpit to inform and persuade. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2024 Free speech advocates say the court should use the case to draw an appropriate line between the government’s acceptable use of the bully pulpit and coercive threats to free speech. Mark Sherman, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Mar. 2024 President Joe Biden has used his bully pulpit to urge Congress to do more about gun violence. Daniel Desrochers, Kansas City Star, 15 Feb. 2024 However, some implored Biden to use his bully pulpit more forcefully. Daniel Arkin, NBC News, 8 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bully pulpit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bully pulpit was in 1963


Dictionary Entries Near bully pulpit

Cite this Entry

“Bully pulpit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bully%20pulpit. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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