Movers and shakers

Movers and shakers is an idiom that may be older than your think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom movers and shakers, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Movers and shakers are people who make things happen, people who are influential or powerful. People who are movers and shakers are always busy in their community or field of endeavor and are often pioneers. The expression movers and shakers was coined by Arthur O’Shaughnessy in his 1874 poem, Ode, hailing the work of musicians and poets: “Yet we are the movers and shakers / Of the world for ever, it seems.” This poem was adapted into a choral presentation in 1912; however, the expression movers and shakers didn’t become popular until the 1960s in the United States to describe influential or powerful people. The expression is sometimes heard in the singular, mover and shaker, to describe one, influential or powerful person.


DA Adams thanked the PSP for their “assistance in this investigation,” stating they were “the movers and shakers behind this.” (Berks Weekly)

They were the movers and shakers of Nigeria’s public service based on their knowledge, the force of their reasoning and argumentation, their ability to assemble facts and figures to support their position or proposal and their readiness for robust forensic battles in their defence. (The Guardian Nigeria)

As a lifelong resident, he was a mover and shaker, making a difference during his mayoral role in the early 1980’s when he joined a group of likeminded individuals in launching the city’s Festival of Balloons, centered around a parade fireworks show. (The South Pasadenan)

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