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tied to apron strings

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Wholly dependent on or controlled by a woman, especially one's mother or wife. For example, At 25, he was still too tied to her apron strings to get an apartment of his own. This expression, dating from the early 1800s, probably alluded to apron-string tenure, a 17th-century law that allowed a husband to control his wife's and her family's property during her lifetime.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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