Call the Shots

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Meaning of Idiom 'Call the Shots'

To call the shots means to be in charge or in control; to make the important decisions; or to have authority. 1,2,3

Examples of Use

"Everybody can't be in charge," said Frank."Someone has to call the shots."

"Who's calling the shots around here?" asked the new worker.


This idiom has been in use since the mid-1900's. It may come from pool playing or billiards, where to call a shot means to say where you are going to hit the ball. The expression may also come from target practice, where a shooter or archer might say what part of a target they are going to hit. 3

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

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