To strong-arm someone is to force them to do something. When you strong-arm your sister into getting out of your bedroom, you physically push her out the door.

Bullies strong-arm smaller kids into handing over their lunch money, and powerful countries strong-arm weaker ones into cooperating with treaties and alliances. In the second example, a figurative kind of strong-arming is going on; there is no physical action, just the implied threat of negative consequences. You can also use this word as an adjective: “Your strong-arm tactics don’t scare me!”

Definitions of strong-arm
  1. verb

    use physical force against

    strong-armed me when I left the restaurant”
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    type of:

    beat, beat up, work over

    give a beating to; subject to a beating, either as a punishment or as an act of aggression

  2. verb

    handle roughly

    “He was
    strong-armed by the policemen”
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    type of:

    do by, handle, treat

    interact in a certain way

  3. verb

    be bossy towards

    ballyrag, boss around, browbeat, bully, bullyrag, hector, push around
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    domineer, tyrannise, tyrannize

    rule or exercise power over (somebody) in a cruel and autocratic manner
    type of:


    make timid or fearful

  4. adjective

    impelled by physical force especially against resistance

    strong-arm tactics”
    forcible, physical


    characterized by or full of force or strength (often but not necessarily physical)

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