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

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 For those who missed it, after more than two years of saber rattling, Genie Bouchard’s suit against the USTA went to trial. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Mailbag: Breaking Down the Details of the Proposed Davis Cup Changes," 28 Feb. 2018 So were North Korea’s saber rattling and doubts about President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. OregonLive.com, "Year in review: 8 business stories that defined 2017," 25 Dec. 2017

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.

See More

First Known Use of saber-rattling

1914, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about saber-rattling

Statistics for saber-rattling

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for saber-rattling

The first known use of saber-rattling was in 1914

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on saber-rattling

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!