sleeping giant

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A metaphor, perhaps made popular by the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, wherein it was attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."


sleeping giant (plural sleeping giants)

  1. (idiomatic) Someone or something with great, latent strength.
    • 1926, "The Educational screen: Volume 5", quoting CE Mahaffey, President, Department of Visual Education, Northwestern Ohio Teachers,
      "There is a sleeping giant in education that is just beginning to awaken."
    • 2010 circa April 30, Sophia Tareen for the Associated Press, "Anger over Ariz. immigration law drives US rallies", as reprinted in USA Today [1]:
      Angered by a controversial Arizona immigration law, tens of thousands of protesters [] rallied in cities nationwide [] .
      "I want to thank the governor of Arizona because she's awakened a sleeping giant," said labor organizer John Delgado, who attended a rally in New York where authorities estimated 6,500 gathered.