Today's Word "Jawbone"

To try to influence by strong persuasion on

Published in Vocabulary

jawbone \JAW-bohn\ (noun) - 1 : A bone of either jaw, especially the lower jaw: mandible. 2 : Credit; promise. 3 : (verb) To try to influence by strong persuasion (as opposed to the use of force). The term is especially used about people in authority dealing in an official capacity.

"But for oil exporters and shippers in the Caspian, President George Bush's jawboning looks to be as futile as King Canute telling the sea to roll backwards."

Sense 1 is literal. Sense 2 apparently derives from the metaphoric use of jaw (words or talk) + French bon (good). Sense 3 originates with the administration of US President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969). It implies the use of one's jawbones rather than the muscles of arms. Contrast the term jawboning with strong-arming.


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