an iron fist in a velvet glove


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
The Swede rarely relishes confrontation with his players - but he's not afraid to apply an iron fist in a velvet glove if necessary.
His diplomatic efforts to coach with an iron fist in a velvet glove then suffered a further jolt in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live.