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an iron hand in a velvet glove
A person who has a gentle, sweet, or unassuming appearance or disposition, but who in reality is particularly severe, forceful, or uncompromising. Tom is in for it now with his wife. She might seem like a nice lady to us, but she's an iron hand in a velvet glove when they're at home. The new leader of the country rose to power by promises of democracy and equality to its citizens, but, as his despotic intentions came to light, he soon proved an iron hand in a velvet glove.
A situation that is undesirable, unenjoyable, or unfulfilling but that provides enough financial security as to make one unwilling or unable to leave. After nearly three years at my mind-numbing job, held back by the velvet handcuffs of my salary and benefits, I decided to break away from it all and go live in Japan.
an iron fist in a velvet glove
A person who has a gentle, sweet, or unassuming appearance or disposition, but who in reality is particularly severe, forceful, and uncompromising. Tom is in for it now with his wife. She might seem like a nice lady to us, but she's an iron fist in a velvet glove. The new leader of the country rose to power with promises of democracy and equality, but as his despotic intentions came to light he soon proved to be an iron fist in a velvet glove.
the little gentleman in the velvet coat
obsolete, literary A humorous name for the mole. The ground was dotted with tiny hills. "What is it that made these?" I asked my uncle. "Why, the little gentleman in the velvet coat," he replied, suppressing a smile.
A manner that is severe, forceful, or uncompromising. Grandma runs the house with an iron hand—if you break a rule, you're grounded for weeks.
rule with a velvet glove
To rule, govern, or control a group or population in a very permissive, lenient, or flexible manner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "rule" and "with." The principal has been ruling the school with a velvet glove, trusting students to behave and follow the rules of their own accord. Not surprisingly, the place is in near-constant chaos. You can't rule with a velvet glove and expect every employees to put in their full efforts day in, day out.
(as) soft as velvet
Exceptionally soft and/or smooth. I love how your face feels after you shave—it's as soft as velvet! This is my favorite blanket to get snuggled up in at night. It's soft as velvet, and it keeps me nice and warm in bed.
rule with a velvet glove
Fig. to rule in a very gentle way. She rules with a velvet glove, but she gets things done, nonetheless. He may appear to rule with a velvet glove, but he is really quite cruel.
*soft as a baby's bottomand soft as a baby's backside; *soft as down; *soft as silk; *soft as velvet
Cliché very soft and smooth to the touch. (*Also: as ~.) This cloth is as soft as a baby's bottom. The kitten's fur was as soft as down. Your touch is soft as silk. This lotion will make your skin soft as velvet.
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 under iron hand.
an iron fist in the velvet glove
If you describe someone or something as an iron fist in the velvet glove you mean that they look gentle but in fact they use a lot of force. There is an iron fist in the velvet glove of the charming Irishman as he plots to make Leeds the top team of the new millennium.
the little gentleman in the velvet coatthe mole. humorous
This expression was a toast used by the Jacobites, supporters of the deposed James II and his descendants in their claim to the British throne. It referred to the belief that the death of King William III resulted from complications following a fall from his horse when it stumbled over a molehill. The phrase is found in various other forms, including the wee gentleman in black velvet .
an iron hand (or fist) in a velvet glovefirmness or ruthlessness masked by outward gentleness.
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.