Open main menu

speak softly and carry a big stick



Alternative formsEdit


Often attributed to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as an expression of his view of foreign policy, but possibly of earlier origin.


speak softly and carry a big stick

  1. Do not boast or utter verbal threats, but do make others aware that you are prepared to use physical force if necessary.
    • 1903 April 3, Theodore Roosevelt, President Roosevelt's Speech on the Monroe Doctrine," Arizona Journal-Miner, p. 4 (retrieved 19 Dec 2011):
      There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
    • 1917, Thorstein Veblen, The Nature of Peace, Introductory:
      Under any governmental auspices, as the modern world knows governments, the keeping of the peace comes at its best under the precept, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
    • 1999 Jan. 17, Tom Kuntz, "Word for Word/Representative James A. Traficant Jr.," New York Times (retrieved 19 Dec 2011):
      When it comes to China, we have gone from "Speak softly and carry a big stick" to "Take the fifth and carry a toothpick". (from a Congressional speech by Rep. James Traficant, June 22, 1998)


See alsoEdit