Movers and shakers

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Movers and shakers is an idiom that may be older than your think. 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)