Hand idioms: 25 useful Hand idioms

Exploring the Fascinating World of Hand Idioms” – From “having the upper hand” to “lending a helping hand,” hand idioms offer a unique glimpse into the richness of language. Discover the hidden meanings behind these expressions that frequently grace our conversations and lend a hand in unlocking their metaphorical power.

Hand idioms showcasing common idioms with symbolic gestures
Exploring the colorful world of hand idioms

List of Hand idioms

  • Give a hand
  • Get out of hand
  • Hand in hand
  • Have a hand in
  • Bite the hand that feeds you
  • All hands on deck
  • Have the upper hand
  • Heavy-handed
  • On one hand…on the other hand
  • Shake hands on it
  • Play into someone’s hands
  • Work hand in glove
  • Have a free hand
  • Wash your hands of something
  • Caught red-handed
  • Twist someone’s arm
  • Let something slip through your fingers
  • Be hand-picked
  • Raise your hand
  • Have your hands tied
  • Get out of hand
  • Have a heavy hand
  • Wash your hands of it
  • Take matters into your own hands
  • Have clean hands


Hand idioms: List of hand idioms with meaning and Examples

Give a hand

Meaning: Help or assist someone


  • Can you give me a hand with these boxes?
  • Thanks for giving me a hand with my homework.
  • I gave him a hand when he was moving his furniture.


Get out of hand

Meaning: Become uncontrollable


  • The party got out of hand after midnight.
  • The protest started to get out of hand when the police arrived.
  • The children’s behavior got out of hand during the field trip.


Hand in hand

Meaning: Together, often in a close relationship or agreement


  • The two companies are working hand in hand to develop new technology.
  • The couple walked hand in hand along the beach.
  • Education and economic development go hand in hand.


Have a hand in

Meaning: Involved in something, often in a negative way


  • He had a hand in the company’s bankruptcy.
  • She had a hand in spreading the rumors.
  • The government had a hand in the decision to increase taxes.


Bite the hand that feeds you

Meaning: Harm or criticize someone who is helping or supporting you


  • I wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you by insulting your manager in public.
  • Don’t bite the hand that feeds you or you might regret it later.


All hands on deck

Meaning: Everyone must help and work together


  • The project is behind schedule, so we need all hands on deck to finish it on time.
  • The company is facing a crisis, so it’s all hands on deck to save it.
  • We’re preparing for a big event, so we need all hands on deck to make it a success.


Have the upper hand

Meaning: Have an advantage or control in a situation


  • The home team had the upper hand in the game.
  • In a game of chess, the player who has more pieces has the upper hand.



Meaning: Use too much force or be too aggressive


  • The police were criticized for their heavy-handed tactics during the protest.
  • The boss was heavy-handed in his management style, which made employees unhappy.


On one hand…on the other hand

Meaning: Used to present two different sides or perspectives on an issue


  • On one hand, I want to stay home and relax. On the other hand, I promised my friend I’d go to her party.
  • On one hand, the project is interesting. On the other hand, it’s very time-consuming.


Shake hands on it

Meaning: Make a formal agreement or deal by shaking hands


  • They shook hands on the business deal and it was sealed.
  • We shook hands on the terms of the lease and I moved into the apartment.
  • After a long negotiation, the two sides finally shook hands on a compromise.


Play into someone’s hands

Meaning: Do something that benefits someone else, often unintentionally


  • By reacting angrily, you’re playing into his hands and giving him the reaction he wants.
  • The opposition party accused the government of playing into the hands of the foreign investors.


Work hand in glove

Meaning: Work closely together, often to achieve a common goal


  • The marketing and sales teams work hand in glove to promote the company’s products.
  • The doctors and nurses work hand in glove to provide the best possible care for their patients.


Have a free hand

Meaning: Have the freedom or authority to do something without interference


  • The coach gave the star player a free hand to make decisions on the field.
  • The artist was given a free hand to create a mural on the building’s wall.


Wash your hands of something

Meaning: Refuse to be responsible for something


  • The company decided to wash its hands of the project because it was losing money.
  • After the argument, he washed his hands of the situation and left the room.


Caught red-handed

Meaning: Caught in the act of doing something wrong or illegal


  • The thief was caught red-handed with the stolen jewelry.
  • The student was caught red-handed cheating on the exam.
  • The employee was caught red-handed embezzling company funds.


Twist someone’s arm

Meaning: Persuade or pressure someone to do something they don’t want to do


  • My friends had to twist my arm to get me to go bungee jumping.
  • The boss twisted his employee’s arm to work overtime on the weekend.
  • She had to twist her parents’ arm to let her travel alone.


Let something slip through your fingers

Meaning: Lose an opportunity or fail to take advantage of something


  • He let his dream job slip through his fingers by not applying in time.
  • She let the opportunity for a promotion slip through her fingers by not improving her skills.


Be hand-picked

Meaning: Be carefully chosen or selected


  • The new CEO was hand-picked by the board of directors.
  • The team members were hand-picked based on their skills and experience.
  • The cast for the play was hand-picked by the director.


Raise your hand

Meaning: Indicate that you want to speak or participate in a discussion


  • If you have a question, please raise your hand and I’ll call on you.
  • She raised her hand to volunteer for the project.


Have your hands tied

Meaning: Be unable to take action or make decisions because of constraints or limitations


  • The manager had his hands tied because of budget cuts.
  • The negotiator had her hands tied by strict instructions from her superiors.


Get out of hand

Meaning: Become uncontrollable or disorderly


  • The party got out of hand when people started breaking things.
  • The protest got out of hand when the police used excessive force.


Have a heavy hand

Meaning: Be overly forceful or authoritarian


  • The boss has a heavy hand when it comes to managing his employees.
  • The coach has a heavy hand with his players, which can be demotivating.
  • The teacher has a heavy hand with her students, which can stifle their creativity.


Wash your hands of it

Meaning: Disassociate oneself from a problem or responsibility


  • He washed his hands of the relationship after it became too complicated.
  • The company washed its hands of the faulty product after numerous complaints.
  • She washed her hands of the project after realizing it wasn’t a good fit for her skills.


Take matters into your own hands

Meaning: Take action or control of a situation yourself


  • When the police didn’t respond to her call, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
  • The employee took matters into his own hands and organized a successful fundraiser for the company.


Have clean hands

Meaning: Have no involvement in a situation or wrongdoing


  • The lawyer made sure to have clean hands in the client’s illegal activities.
  • The politician promised to have clean hands and not accept bribes.


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