In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about power:
Having power and controlling someone is like being in a higher position than them. Not having power is like being low down.
They have no power/control over their staff.
She ruled over the empire for many years.
He remained at the top for ten years, until his retirement.
They have come out on top yet again.
She holds the highest position in the company.
There are many staff under her.
How many people are there above you?
I began my career as a lowly office worker.
Don’t let them walk all over you.
the upper/lower classes
They were downtrodden and oppressed.
She’s completely under his thumb.
Having power and control is like holding someone or something, or like driving a vehicle or controlling an animal.
They have a hold over him.
The armed forces seized power.
Police kept a firm grip on dissenters.
She seems to have a handle on most of the work.
I’ve got the situation well in hand.
The children are completely out of hand.
Who makes the decisions? Who is pulling the strings?
I have no idea who’s in the driving seat.
The company expanded greatly during his years in the saddle.
She is steering the country through much-needed reforms.
She kept her staff on a very tight rein.
More language tips
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