play the heavy, to

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play the heavy

To do that which is necessary but undesirable or unpleasant, especially behaving in a mean, strict, or unsympathetic manner. My wife is all cuddles and kisses with the kids, then I have to play the heavy when they misbehave. I know you don't like playing the heavy, but your employees will never respect you don't lay down the law.
See also: heavy, play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play the heavy

Fig. to act the part of a mean person; to do the unpleasant tasks that no one else wants to do. (Refers originally to playing the role of someone evil in a movie, etc.) I'm a nice guy, but at work, I am required to play the heavy. The boss makes me do all the cruel things.
See also: heavy, play
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

play the heavy

Act the part of a villain; take the blame for unkind behavior. For example, She can't bear firing an employee, so she relies on Jim to play the heavy. This colloquial term comes from the theater, where heavy has been used for a stern, serious role or that of a villain since the early 1800s.
See also: heavy, play
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.

play the heavy, to

To take the role of villain; by extension, to take the blame for meanness, cruelty, and other undesirable behavior. The adjective heavy was used to describe the villain’s part in theater from about 1800 on, and by 1900 heavy was being used as a noun for such a role. Only in the mid-twentieth century was it extended to offstage events, as in J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey (1962): “I’m sick to death of being the heavy in everyone’s life.”
See also: play
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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