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iron hand

strict or harsh control:
The general governed the country with an iron hand.
Origin of iron hand
1840-50 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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British Dictionary definitions for iron hand

iron hand

harsh or rigorous control; overbearing or autocratic force: he ruled with an iron hand
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Idioms and Phrases with iron hand

iron hand

Rigorous control, as in He ruled the company with an iron hand. This usage is sometimes put asiron 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 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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