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Denotation vs. Connotation

driving force

The impetus, power, or energy behind something in motion, as in He was clearly the driving force in the new administration. This term transfers the force that sets in motion an engine or vehicle to other enterprises. Ralph Waldo Emerson was among the first to use it figuratively (English Traits, 1856): “The ability of its journals is the driving force.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Examples from the Web for driving force
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  • No mind can exert its full power unless the driving force comes from within.

    How to Teach Religion George Herbert Betts
  • With something of her driving force mixed with anything his father had of gentleness.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
  • It was no longer the paralysing despair but the despair that has a driving force in it.

  • Not the blustering, driving force of Lund, but a will that was persistent, powerful.

    A Man to His Mate J. Allan Dunn
  • There is no driving force to equal that which works from within a community—not from without.

    Music As A Language Ethel Home

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