5

Example with a context (Putin's Holy War And The Disintegration Of The 'Russian World'):

The issue is not so much church governance, but a desire for greater political autonomy from the Kremlin in light of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, a fact that both Belarussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who is trying to distance himself from Putin’s vice like grip, and Vladimir Putin, both understand well.

I'm not sure how to interpret that part.

  • I think it's a typo, or just possibly a pun. Vise being a mechanical device for holding things tightly, vice being "immoral or wicked behavior". – jamesqf Jun 5 '15 at 19:28
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    @jamesqf In British English, the mechanical device is also spelt "vice" so there's no pun here. – David Richerby Jun 5 '15 at 19:46
  • Similar to a death grip. – user6951 Jun 5 '15 at 20:11
17

The normal way to write that is with a hyphen:

vice-like grip

See the definition of -like in the ODO.

Literally, a vice-like grip would be a grip like that of a vise/vice, which is a mechanical device for holding things in place. Thus, a very strong grip.

In this context, it's not his handshake we're talking about, but grip in the sense of political control.

It's a colorful way to reference that power and control, with strong negative connotations—I can't imagine a non-ironic phrase where someone wanted to be in a "vise-like grip".

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  • Dan I added the definition for -like since that forms part of your answer, and also because we just had another question about -like. – user6951 Jun 5 '15 at 20:15
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    @DanGetz 'can't imagine'... "vise-like thighs" might be a good search term for such a hypothetical situation. – Spehro Pefhany Jun 6 '15 at 14:05
3

A vice-like grip commonly denotes a very strong grip, like that of wood being held on a workbench.

In the case you mention with Putin, some additional connotations and nuances are possibly implied:

Once in the grip of a vice, be it a literal or metaphorical one, it is difficult to escape.

Vice is a category of crime, and many state that Putin has led Russia into a kleptocracy, where the country is run by gangsters.

Of the many vices, avarice and covetousness come rapidly to mind in your example, headlined "Holy War". In religion, the vices are categorized as The Seven Deadly Sins.

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  • I like this answer because it is the only one that mentions a workbench. – Mr Lister Jun 6 '15 at 6:27
2

A "vice" is a mechanical device designed for holding objects (like bars of metal) and a key thing is - to not let go, even if there are strains and stresses on the thing that is being held (for instance sawing, drilling, etc)

The other thing is that the grip of a vice is so strong that you can easily deform the object that you place in the device.

So when we say a "vice-like grip" it is referring to grip of the vice as a point of reference so people will understand just how tight they mean - so tight that there is no way it is being let go.

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