He clearly saw himself as the master puppeteer, whether with the strings of gifts or guilt.
But they must have the trust to approach us with no strings attached.
Or when Russell Simmons showed up early on and offered big money with strings attached.
Old English streng "line, cord, thread," from Proto-Germanic *strangiz (cf. Old Norse strengr, Danish streng, Middle Dutch strenge, Dutch streng, Old High German strang, German Strang "rope, cord"), from *strang- "taut, stiff," from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see strain). Gradually restricted by early Middle English to lines that are smaller than a rope. Sense of "a number of objects arranged in a line" first recorded late 15c.
Old English meaning "ligaments, tendons" is preserved in hamstring, heartstrings. Meaning "limitations, stipulations" (1888) is American English, probably from the common April Fool's joke of leaving a purse that looks full of money on the sidewalk, then tugging it away with an attached string when someone stoops to pick it up. To pull strings "control the course of affairs" (1860) is from the notion of puppet theater. First string, second string, etc. in athletics (1863) is from archers' custom of carrying spare bowstrings in the event that one breaks. Strings "stringed instruments" is attested from mid-14c. String bean is from 1759; string bikini is from 1974.
c.1400, "to fit a bow with a string," from string (n.). Meaning "to thread (beads, etc.) on a string" is from 1610s. To string (someone) along is slang from 1902; string (v.) in this sense is attested in British dialect from c.1812.
A section of the orchestra containing the stringed musical instruments — those played by making stretched strings vibrate. In most stringed instruments, the musician draws a bow over the strings; violins, violas, cellos, and bass viols are played in this way. Other stringed instruments are played by plucking the strings; these include the banjo, guitar, harp, harpsichord, and ukulele.
To deceive; fool, esp into a continuing adherence, cooperation, etc; string: I'm afraid that he's just stringing me along, trying to encourage me
[1902+; probably fr early 1800s British string on, in the same sense]
To succeed: I worked at the problem eight days before I struck oil (1866+)