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

an iron fist/hand in a velvet glove

something that you say when you are describing someone who seems to be gentle but is in fact severe and firm To enforce each new law the president uses persuasion first, and then force - the iron hand in the velvet glove.
See also: fist, glove, iron, velvet

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.
References in classic literature ?
In the corner of the sofa there was a cushion, and in the velvet which covered it there was a hole, and out of the hole peeped a tiny head with a pair of tightened eyes in it.
She, however, half-concealed beneath the thick curtains of the velvet and gold which sheltered her, had not listened to the discussion, having been occupied in watching the Comte de Guiche, who was conversing with Raoul.
The king was dressed in a purple velvet jacket, white muslin trousers, and a saffron-yellow turban of price.
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -- What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-- What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
He was dressed in a rich costume of pink silk and purple velvet, and my grandfather thought he would see what he could do.
with a final burst of love triumphant, as she pressed the dishevelled daisy to her lips and lifted her large eyes to the sophisticated countenance of the little brown Faust-Capoul, who was vainly trying, in a tight purple velvet doublet and plumed cap, to look as pure and true as his artless victim.
He entered, then, bowed to those present with the hereditary smile of the great for the people, and directed his course slowly towards his scarlet velvet arm-chair, with the air of thinking of something quite different.
The countess was to wear a claret-colored velvet dress, and the two girls white gauze over pink silk slips, with roses on their bodices and their hair dressed a la grecque.
Dark crimson velvet, dark purple silk, and jet-black cloth, with linen of dazzling whiteness, composed the festive dress of the President, who marched at the head of his Committee carrying an enormous nosegay, like that which a hundred and twenty-one years later, Monsieur de Robespierre displayed at the festival of "The Supreme Being.
Through the big hall they went, up the grand staircase carpeted thick with velvet, and so along a wide corridor to a carved doorway.
Sir Nigel was still in his velvet dress of peace, with flat velvet cap of maintenance, and curling ostrich feather clasped in a golden brooch.
He wore a jaunty coat of chocolate-colored velvet, with diamond buttons, and with two huge pockets which were always filled with bones, dropped there at dinner by his loving mistress.
The black velvet of her locket nestled with special softness round her neck.
The one essentially natural touch about her appearance was the few curls, strangers to curling-irons, that escaped from under the little naughty hat of black velvet pulled low over the eyes.