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.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

catch a Tartar

encounter or get hold of a person who can neither be controlled nor got rid of; meet with a person who is unexpectedly more than your match.
The Tartars (or Tatars), a combined force of central Asian people including Mongols and Turks, established a vast empire during the Middle Ages under the leadership of the warlord Genghis Khan , and were a byword for ferocity.
See also: catch
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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