an iron hand

an iron hand

1. A particularly severe, forceful, and uncompromising manner of doing something. Tom is in for it now with his wife. She might seem like a nice lady to us, but she runs her house with an iron hand.
2. A person who does things in such a manner. The new leader of the country rose to power with promises of democracy and equality, but he soon proved to be an iron hand as his despotic intentions came to light.
See also: hand, iron

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

an iron ˈfist/ˈhand (in a velvet ˈglove)

harsh treatment of somebody that is hidden behind a gentle manner: The president ruled his country by using an iron fist in a velvet glove.
See also: fist, hand, iron
References in classic literature ?
The tribe of anthropoids over which Kerchak ruled with an iron hand and bared fangs, numbered some six or eight families, each family consisting of an adult male with his females and their young, numbering in all some sixty or seventy apes.
Yet perhaps it is wiser to remind you that underneath the glove is an iron hand.
Ned Land took his handkerchief to wave in the air; but he had scarcely displayed it, when he was struck down by an iron hand, and fell, in spite of his great strength, upon the deck.
The one white man on Oolong was McAllister, petty trader and unintermittent guzzler; and he ruled Oolong and its six thousand savages with an iron hand.
For Bashti, unlike most chiefs, ruled his devil devil doctors with an iron hand.
Such killers must be crushed with an iron hand and in an exemplary way.
The father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said that one of the biggest curses is bribery and corruption, which really is a poison that needs to be tackled with an iron hand.
The action committee made it clear that the Jan 17 protest would be peaceful and any interference to sabotage the protest by police force would be dealt with an iron hand.
Those who were found in creating artificial shortage of edible item during the holy month of Ramazan would be dealt with an iron hand, he said in a statement.
Babar said of the UK's air raids on Isis in Syria: "We should deal with terrorists with an iron hand and show no concessions.
Many have attacked him for rebuilding ties with a country where a single family has ruled with an iron hand for six decades.
In an address during the Haj, the mufti called on fellow Islamic leaders to "hit with an iron hand the enemies of Islam".
ISLAMABAD -- While expressing grave concern over the rise in incidents of sectarian violence in the country the Federal Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday directed the law enforcement agencies that all acts of violence should be dealt with an iron hand adding that all segments of religious opinion should be taken on board in a proactive and positive manner.
New Delhi, Jan 4 ( ANI ): Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has said crimes against women and weaker sections of society need to be curbed with an iron hand.
Authorities would "strike with an iron hand all those who seek to tamper with the nation's security," Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Gindi told reporters after the Cabinet held crisis talks.