The hand is located at the lower part of the arm just after the wrist. The hand includes four fingers and a thumb. The plural is ‘hands’.

hand idioms list

Let’s look at some popular body idioms that contain the word ‘hand’.

  • all hands on deck
    meaning – everyone is needed to help
    example – The order has to be finished by Monday so it’s all hands on deck to complete it.
  • ask for someone’s hand in marriage
    meaning – ask permission to marry someone/get married
    example – I saw a receipt from the jewellery store. I think Jamie is going to ask for my hand in marriage.
  • catch red handed
    meaning – someone sees you doing something bad
    example – The diamond thieves got 10 years in prison after they were caught red handed.
  • dab hand
    meaning – very good at something
    example – My dad can probably fix it. He’s a dab hand with electronics.
  • eat out of the palm of one’s hand
    meaning – dominate/have control over someone
    example – The new teacher is great, she had the whole class eating out of the palm of her hand.
  • first-hand
    meaning – from the original source, directly
    example – I got to see first-hand what plastic is doing to our oceans.
  • get one’s hands dirty
    meaning – do hard/manual work or something illegal
    example – Karl will help you dig the hole, he loves getting his hands dirty.
  • get out of hand
    meaning – a situation gets out of control
    example – The party got out of hand very quickly. The Police arrived and shut it down.
  • give/lend someone a hand
    meaning – help someone
    example – I’m moving house at the weekend. Do you fancy lending me a hand?
  • golden handshake
    meaning – a large sum of money given to someone retiring/being made redundant
    example – My dad got a very generous golden handshake. He is going to buy a house in Spain.
  • hand that rocks the cradle (rules the world)
    meaning – mothers have power as they influence their children’s personalities and behaviour
    example – We offer free counselling sessions to all new mums, the hand that rocks the cradle…
  • handbags at dawn/ten paces
    meaning – a dramatic/theatrical confrontation which doesn’t involve violence
    example – There were handbags at ten paces on the bus earlier, I thought there was going to be a fight.
  • hand-me-down
    meaning – clothing given to someone else after it has been used
    example – Now my dad has a job, I don’t have to wear hand-me-downs anymore.
  • hands are full
    meaning – very busy
    example – Mr Mitchell’s hands are full for the next few weeks. His next available appointment is in June.
  • hands are tied
    meaning – you can’t do something because you don’t have the power/authority
    example – The headmaster wants him expelled. There is nothing I can do; my hands are tied.
  • hands are tied
    meaning – you can’t do something because you don’t have the power/authority
    example – The headmaster wants him expelled. There is nothing I can do; my hands are tied.
  • hands down
    meaning – very easily
    example – We won hands down, the other team were rubbish.
  • have blood on one’s hands
    meaning – be responsible for someone’s death
    example – The president sent the troops to war without proper weapons. He’s got blood on his hands.
  • have something to hand
    meaning – nearby, easily accessible
    example – I’ve got my details to hand. When the bank call, I’ll tell them.
  • have the upper hand
    meaning – gain an advantage
    example – My brother always has the upper hand when we fight. He is much bigger than me.
  • have time on one’s hands
    meaning – have spare/extra time with nothing to do
    example – I have no time on my hands since my son was born.
  • like the back of one’s hand
    meaning – know something very well
    example – We’ve lived in this city our whole lives. We know it like the back of our hands.
  • live from hand to mouth
    meaning – very poor, have just enough money to survive
    example – We are living from hand to mouth at the moment and we have another baby on the way.
  • old hand
    meaning – an experienced/skilled person
    example – I’m an old hand at fixing cars. I’ve been doing it for 40 years.
  • on hand
    meaning – available to be used if needed
    example – We have a team of 50 lawyers on hand 24/7 to help with all your legal needs.
  • right-hand man
    meaning – the most valuable assistant/helper
    example – I’m away for two weeks, contact my right-hand man Colin if you have any problems.
  • second hand
    meaning – not new, from a previous owner
    example – I bought a second-hand car, it’s a pile of junk.
  • show of hands
    meaning – raise your hand to vote/answer a question
    example – What is the capital of Peru? I’ll have a show of hands please.
  • turn back the hands of time
    meaning – rewind time, remember and earlier time
    example – I’ll be turning back the hands of time by wearing leg warmers and a shell suit to the party.
  • wait on someone hand and foot
    meaning – do everything someone wants
    example – I stayed in a luxury hotel. They waited on me hand and foot.
  • wash one’s hands of someone/something
    meaning – have nothing more to do with someone/something
    example – I’ve washed my hands of that gang, they are out of control.

hand idioms list with pictures

Here’s some real life picture examples.

idiomatic expressions with body parts - hand
hand idioms in English - all hands on deck
hand idioms - ask for someone’s hand in marriage
hand idioms - catch red handed
hand idioms and expressions - dab hand meaning
common hand idioms - eat out of the palm of one's hand
hand idioms - first-hand meaning
hand idioms list - get one’s hands dirty meaning
hand idioms - get out of hand
hand idioms in English - give-lend a hand meaning
hand idioms - golden handshake meaning
hand idioms - hand that rocks the cradle rules the world
common hand idioms - handbags at dawn-ten paces
hand idioms - hand-me-down
hand idioms in English - hands are full meaning
hand idioms - hands are tied
hand idioms in English - hands down meaning
hand idioms - have blood on one's hands
common idioms - have something to hand
hand idioms list - have the upper handmeaning
hand idioms and expressions - have time on one’s hands meaning
hand idioms - like the back of one's hand
hand idioms - live from hand to mouth meaning
hand idioms and expressions - old hand meaning
hand idioms - on hand
hand idioms - right-hand man meaning
hand idioms and expressions - second hand
hand idioms in English - show of hands
hand idioms - turn back the hands of time
hand idioms and expressions - wait on someone hand and foot meaning
hand idioms - wash one's hands of

You can download a table of ‘hand’ idioms and expressions below.

If you’ve enjoyed this page, don’t forget to check out some more body idioms by clicking on the links below.