big tent

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See also: big-tent


Alternative forms[edit]


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


big tent (plural big tents)

  1. (idiomatic) A group, philosophy, or social or political movement that encompasses or seeks to attract a broad range of members or constituents.
    • 1995 July 10, Elizabeth Gleick et al., “Sobering Times for A.A.”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 2010-08-03:
      The newcomers often bring an array of ancillary problems to meetings, including emotional trauma and addiction to other drugs. As the organization metamorphoses, its supporters wonder whether A.A. [Alcoholics Anonymous] can or should be such a big tent.
    • 1996 September 8, “Why Cowboys Became Kings”, in Newsweek[2]:
      They are not a slice of Americana, as we usually say, but rather, a broad brush of it. While most of our successful sports franchises display some distinct personality, only the Cowboys offer the big tent.
    • 2008 December 6, Caitlin Flanagan; Benjamin Schwarz, “Showdown in the Big Tent”, in New York Times[3]:
      And here in essence is the problem with the Democrats’ big tent, as well as the grounds for a wholly new kind of culture war that is probably going to make us long for the clear lines and simple enmities of the old one.
    • 2018 July 4, Megan Garber, “Is #MeToo Too Big?”, in The Atlantic[4]:
      #MeToo, that vast and disembodied and ongoing protest march, has been subject to similar dynamics: the big tent, flinging its flaps ever wider; the entropic impulse as both a matter of promise and a matter of peril.
  2. (attributive, sometimes hyphenated) Pertaining to, representing, or advocating such a group, philosophy, or movement.
    • 2008 January 19, Mo Rocca, Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!, National Public Radio:
      Kucinich is a pretty big tent kinda guy. He’s very liberal.


Further reading[edit]