Definition of an iron fist (or hand) in a velvet glove in English:

an iron fist (or hand) in a velvet glove

phrase

  • Firmness or ruthlessness cloaked in outward gentleness.

    • ‘Ressler, who hides an iron fist in a velvet glove, did not miss the opportunity to praise them, while having a dig at current technical director.’
    • ‘The US and Britain have compromised to buy goodwill, retaining the right to strike with an iron fist in a velvet glove.’
    • ‘Once upon a time, colonial Britain ruled India with an iron fist in a velvet glove.’
    • ‘Made with throwaway good humour, here was an iron fist in a velvet glove.’
    • ‘The fact is that India has realised that the only way to tackle China is with an iron hand in a velvet glove.’