velvet

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an iron hand in a velvet glove

A person who has a gentle, sweet, or unassuming appearance or disposition, but who in reality is particularly severe, forceful, or uncompromising. Tom is in for it now with his wife. She might seem like a nice lady to us, but she's an iron hand in a velvet glove when they're at home. The new leader of the country rose to power by promises of democracy and equality to its citizens, but, as his despotic intentions came to light, he soon proved an iron hand in a velvet glove.
See also: glove, hand, iron, velvet

velvet handcuffs

A situation that is undesirable, unenjoyable, or unfulfilling but that provides enough financial security as to make one unwilling or unable to leave. After nearly three years at my mind-numbing job, held back by the velvet handcuffs of my salary and benefits, I decided to break away from it all and go live in Japan.
See also: handcuff, velvet

an iron fist in a velvet glove

A person who has a gentle, sweet, or unassuming appearance or disposition, but who in reality is particularly severe, forceful, and uncompromising. Tom is in for it now with his wife. She might seem like a nice lady to us, but she's an iron fist in a velvet glove. The new leader of the country rose to power by promises of democracy and equality to its citizens, but as his despotic intentions came to light he soon proved to be an iron fist in a velvet glove.
See also: fist, glove, iron, velvet

rule with a velvet glove

Fig. to rule in a very gentle way. She rules with a velvet glove, but she gets things done, nonetheless. He may appear to rule with a velvet glove, but he is really quite cruel.
See also: glove, rule, velvet

*soft as a baby's bottom

 and soft as a baby's backside; *soft as down; *soft as silk; *soft as velvet
Cliché very soft and smooth to the touch. (*Also: as ~.) This cloth is as soft as a baby's bottom. The kitten's fur was as soft as down. Your touch is soft as silk. This lotion will make your skin soft as velvet.
See also: bottom, soft

iron hand

Rigorous control, as in He ruled the company with an iron hand. This usage is sometimes put as iron hand in a velvet glove, meaning "firm but seemingly gentle control," as in She runs the town with an iron hand in a velvet glove. [c. 1700]
See also: hand, iron

velvet

see under iron hand.

an iron fist in the velvet glove

If you describe someone or something as an iron fist in the velvet glove you mean that they look gentle but in fact they use a lot of force. There is an iron fist in the velvet glove of the charming Irishman as he plots to make Leeds the top team of the new millennium.
See also: fist, glove, iron, velvet