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

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 Contrary to a lot of hazy stereotypes, presidential efforts to use the bully pulpit have a tendency to backfire in exactly this way. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Support for immigration is surging in the Trump era," 5 July 2018 Yet the chamber gave him a bully pulpit from which to inveigh against the ills plaguing the nation. Time, "Robert F. Kennedy Was Killed While Campaigning for President. Here's What Drove Him to Run," 5 June 2018 This is always true for the party out of power, forced to reckon with its ideological cleavages, personality conflicts, and the lack of a singular leader who can compete head-to-head with the bully pulpit of a president. Peter Hamby, The Hive, "“That Is What Power Looks Like”: As Trump Prepares for 2020, Democrats Are Losing the Only Fight That Matters," 26 May 2018 Instead, the league has managed to get its entire workforce mocked and disrespected in front of the country, with no sign that the criticism from the presidential bully pulpit will stop any time soon. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Congratulations, NFL, You Played Yourself! Protest Fines Didn’t Appease Trump, Who Wants Players Who Don’t Stand for the Anthem Tossed Out of the Country," 24 May 2018 Now, supporters of the House measure are hoping Trump will use his bully pulpit to nudge Senate opponents to the negotiating table. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Dem divides emerge," 23 May 2018 Yes, Scalia gleefully uses his bully pulpit on the Supreme Court to launch myriad fiery verbal assaults on liberal causes and any justices who support them. Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader, "The Originalist show us the man behind "the monster"," 23 May 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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The first known use of bully pulpit was in 1963

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bully pulpit


English Language Learners Definition of bully pulpit

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

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a private place of worship

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