saber-rattling

noun
sa·​ber-rat·​tling | \ ˈsā-bər-ˌrat-liŋ How to pronounce saber-rattling (audio) , -ˌra-tᵊl-iŋ\
variants: or saber rattling or chiefly British sabre-rattling or sabre rattling

Definition of saber-rattling

: overtly and often exaggeratedly threatening actions or statements (such as verbal threats or ostentatious displays of military power) that are meant to intimidate an enemy by suggesting possible use of force But Jager insists that North Korean saber-rattling was aimed mostly at extorting economic aid from Washington, Seoul and other governments anxious to preserve peace at almost any price.— Mark Atwood Lawrence Iran's noisy saber rattling is only the latest lurch in its erratic foreign policy.— John Greenwald broadly : threatening statements or actions The U.S. central bank has been saber-rattling for months regarding interest rate hikes but has yet to pull the trigger amid uneven economic data. — Jeff Fox For months now, the card companies have been threatening to cut rewards programs sharply to make up for revenue lost because of the new restrictions. My guess, however, is that this talk is just so much saber-rattling. — Ron Lieber

Examples of saber-rattling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The administration’s saber rattling in Iran will likely force a foreign policy conversation, if one heavily weighted toward the Persian Gulf. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Give Democrats a Chance to Get Serious in Their First Debates," 26 June 2019 And also able to turn on the charm, after all of these years of threats and saber rattling and things. CBS News, "Transcript: Anna Fifield talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 19 June 2019 Even some of the staunchest U.S. allies were begrudgingly forced to side with Maduro in condemning Trump's saber rattling. Joshua Goodman, Fox News, "US official: Trump pressed aides about Venezuela invasion," 4 July 2018 Even some of the staunchest U.S. allies were begrudgingly forced to side with Maduro in condemning Trump's saber rattling. Joshua Goodman, chicagotribune.com, "U.S. official: Trump pressed aides about Venezuela invasion," 4 July 2018 Even some of the staunchest U.S. allies were begrudgingly forced to side with Maduro in condemning Trump's saber rattling. Joshua Goodman, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says," 4 July 2018 Following a year of missile tests and saber rattling, North and South Korea marched under one flag at the opening ceremony. Time, "Son Heung-min Wants to Bring World Cup Glory to South Korea," 7 June 2018 Is his globalist worldview threatened by the U.S. administration’s protectionist saber rattling? Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Coal Cloud, VW Charge, Twitter Passwords: CEO Daily for May 4, 2018," 4 May 2018 Small-business owners aren’t waiting for either side to make good on their saber rattling. Ruth Simon, WSJ, "From Wisconsin to Connecticut, Small Businesses Feel Pain of Tariffs," 16 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'saber-rattling.' 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 saber-rattling

1914, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for saber-rattling

Last Updated

30 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for saber-rattling

The first known use of saber-rattling was in 1914

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More Definitions for saber-rattling

saber-rattling

noun

English Language Learners Definition of saber-rattling

: actions and statements that are meant to frighten or threaten an enemy by suggesting the possible use of force

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