from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Clumsy; awkward.
  • adj. Tactless; indiscreet.
  • adj. Oppressive; harsh.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Clumsy, awkward; hence, excessive.
  • adj. Extreme; unnecessarily forceful.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. same as ham-fisted.
  • adj. unjustly harsh or domineering.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Clumsy; awkward; not dexterous.
  • Oppressive; downbearing: as, heavy-handed tyranny.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. unjustly domineering
  • adj. lacking physical movement skills, especially with the hands


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Those regulations - which the province credits for cutting booze-related motor fatalities nearly in half since they came into effect - have been called heavy-handed and potentially unconstitutional.

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  • In the U.S., there was some heavy-handed censorship but far more willing submission by the press itself.

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  • Three decades later, French novelist Pierre Boulle published "Planet of the Apes," whose heavy-handed satire (the apes drive cars and drink in nightclubs) inspired an American franchise of action movies.

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  • That particular event was the most disappointing part of the book for me, because I got the feeling it was going to happen before it did, and I found it a little heavy-handed and cliched.

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  • Good writing makes you curious without being too heavy-handed about it.

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  • These inequalities must then be reduced by progressive taxation, affirmative action and other heavy-handed government intervention.

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