high-handed vs heavy-handed

DB2011

New Member
English
I sometimes hear the terms "high-handed" and "heavy-handed" used, often in a political context.
For example, when a government official introduces a new policy without consultation with the people who will be affected the most.
Or a senior manager who makes major changes within a company with no regard for employees who will have to deal with these new rules.

In both cases, somebody is behaving like a bully, pushing his own way, and steamrolling over everybody else, with no consideration.

Can the two terms be used interchangeably?

If not, what is the difference between the terms "high-handed" and "heavy-handed?"
 
  • DB2011

    New Member
    English
    Please give us the sentence in which you would use "high-handed" or "heavy-handed."
    The local school district last year revised its rules so that parents of all children attending school in the district must create an online account, review the district policy document online, and check the "Yes" box to indicate they have read the policy document AND agree with it.

    i) There is no option to have a printed copy of this policy document available; it must be done online ONLY.
    ii) There is no option to say NO.
    iii) Reviewing and accepting this document is MANDATORY for each student each year.

    I feel there are so many things wrong with this policy.

    First of all, if a policy is mandatory, it shouldn't require our acceptance--effectively, our digital signature.
    After all, if somebody puts a gun to a person's head and forces a person to sign a contract, that contract is not valid. I think the legal phrase is something like, "a contract signed under compulsion is invalid."

    Second, an ink-on-paper contract allows a party to cross off certain words, phrases, or terms, and initial the change to indicate changes are required. Even banks accept this. But this online school policy has only a "Yes" check box at the beginning of the form. There are no options to accept individual paragraphs at a time, or to make changes. Users accept the whole form entirely. And there is no check-box to choose "No."

    Whoever brought out this new policy seems to think all people are passive sheep who will just say yes and move along.

    I believe that whoever thought up this new policy, and decided to have it implemented with no regard for parent push-back, is being high-handed. This policy should not be forced on people and other options should be made available.
     
    Last edited:

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    They are certainly not interchangeable.

    High-handed means using authority or power in an arbitrary, unthinking, way. It means dictatorial or tyrannical.

    Heavy-handed means using authority or power in a clumsy, crushing, way. It means harsh or oppressive.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    They are certainly not interchangeable.

    High-handed means using authority or power in an arbitrary, unthinking, way. It means dictatorial or tyrannical.

    Heavy-handed means using authority or power in a clumsy, crushing, way. It means harsh or oppressive.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
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