catch a Tartar


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catch a Tartar

To encounter or be forced to reckon with someone or something that proves more powerful, troublesome, or formidable than one expected. They thought that I would simply give up if my complaint had to go to court, but they'll soon realize that they've caught a Tartar! It looks like we caught a Tartar when we tried to muscle their store out of the area.
See also: catch

catch a Tartar

Seek out something or someone that turns out to be unexpectedly unpleasant or formidable, as in Now that she finally agreed to meet with you, you just might find that you've caught a Tartar . In this term, Tartar signifies a difficult or sometimes violent individual, referring to Turkic and Mongolian invaders of Asia in the Middle Ages. [Mid-1600s]
See also: catch