[ hev-ee-han-did ]
See synonyms for: heavy-handedheavy-handedness on Thesaurus.com

  1. oppressive; harsh: a heavy-handed master.

  2. clumsy; graceless: a heavy-handed treatment of the theme.

Origin of heavy-handed

First recorded in 1625–35

Other words from heavy-handed

  • heav·y-hand·ed·ly, adverb
  • heav·y-hand·ed·ness, noun

Words Nearby heavy-handed

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use heavy-handed in a sentence

  • Here John was in charge of the blacks and under his heavy-handed rule the cases were rapidly stowed away.

    The Blind Lion of the Congo | Elliott Whitney
  • It is the same fierce, hard-living, heavy-handed, very cunning service out of which the Navy as we know it to-day was born.

    Sea Warfare | Rudyard Kipling
  • He asked, after a moment, "Don't you think that would be rather a heavy-handed way of dealing with the matter?"

    Imaginary Interviews | W. D. Howells
  • Those heavy-handed mechanics in the district motor pool, for example.

    Final Weapon | Everett B. Cole
  • "If Happy's ghost don't git to playin' music too much," he added with his heavy-handed wit.

British Dictionary definitions for heavy-handed


  1. clumsy

  2. harsh and oppressive

Derived forms of heavy-handed

  • heavy-handedly, adverb
  • heavy-handedness, noun

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