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tower of strength

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A dependable person on whom one can lean in time of trouble, as in After Dad died Grandma was a tower of strength for the whole family. This expression, first recorded in 1549, originally was used most often to refer to God and heaven, but Shakespeare had it differently in Richard III (5:3): “Besides, the King's name is a tower of strength.”

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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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