have (one's) hands tied

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have (one's) hands tied

To be prevented from acting, helping, or intervening as one should or desires to due to circumstances beyond one's control, such as rules, conflicting orders, or higher priorities. I'm sorry, I would love to approve your application, but I have my hands tied by the regulations. The company stated that they have tried everything in their power to avoid pay cuts, but they have their hands tied at this point.
See also: hand, have, tie
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

have one's hands tied

Fig. to be prevented from doing something. (As if one's hands were made immobile.) I can't help you. I was told not to, so I have my hands tied. John can't help. He has his hands tied by his boss.
See also: hand, have, tie
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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