rule with an iron hand

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rule with an iron hand

To rule, govern, or control a group or population with complete, typically tyrannical authority over all aspects of life, work, etc. A noun or pronoun can be used between "rule" and "with." He rules with an iron hand, and moves swiftly to gain control over any entity that is not already in his grasp. She has ruled this company with an iron hand for three decades, and it's going to be difficult for her to let go of control.
See also: hand, iron, rule
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

rule (somebody/something) with a rod of ˈiron/with an iron ˈhand

(informal) control somebody/something in a very strong or strict way: They ruled the country with an iron hand and anybody who protested was arrested.
See also: hand, iron, of, rod, rule
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

iron hand (in a velvet glove), to rule with an

To rule with absolute firmness (concealed by a mild manner). Ruling with iron was an idea expressed in the Bible, in the Book of Revelation: “And he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (2:27). Iron hand in a velvet glove comes from Thomas Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850) and is there ascribed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “‘Iron hand in a velvet glove,’ as Napoleon defined it.” However, the phrase has been attributed to other rulers, too, among them Charles V. Today it is more often used for lesser authorities, such as a strict parent, but may be dying out.
See also: hand, iron, rule, velvet

rule with an iron hand/rod, to

Stern or tyrannical rule. This term comes from Tyndall’s translation of the Bible (1526): “And he shall rule them with a rodde of yron.” It was later transferred to any kind of stern domination, either serious or ironic. For the latter, Anthony Trollope used it in Barchester Towers (1857): “In matters domestic she . . . ruled with a rod of iron.” See also iron hand (in a velvet glove).
See also: hand, iron, rule
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Ruling with an iron hand, the emperor meted out rigorous punishments but also rewarded the deserving; Three assassination attempts fuelled his preoccupation with death and the afterlife.