Hand Idioms | English Idioms

The following idioms are formed with the word hand. Each idiom is followed by its meaning / definition and example sentences.

At hand

When something is at hand, it is very close to you and easy to reach.

  • Don’t worry. Help is at hand if you need it.

Close at hand / near at hand

  • I always keep a dictionary close at hand.

At the hands of someone

The French suffered defeat at the hands of the English. (= The English defeated the French.)

  • The cat died at the hands of the cruel boy. (= The cruel boy killed the cat.)

First/second/third hand

If you experience something first hand, you experience it yourself. If you experience something second hand or third hand, you hear about it from someone else.

  • She has experienced poverty first hand.

Get / lay your hands on something

To lay your hands on something is to obtain it.

  • She has read every book she could lay her hands on.

Go hand in hand

When things go hand in hand, they happen or exist together.

  • Poverty and suffering go hand in hand.

Hand in glove

To work hand in glove with someone is to work very closely with them.

Hand over fist

  • If you earn money hand over fist, you earn a lot of it. If you spend money hand over fist, you spend a lot of it.

Someone’s hands are tied

When your hands are tied, you can’t do what you want to do because something such as a rule prevents you from doing it.

  • I really wanted to help him, but unfortunately my hands were tied.

Have a hand in something

To have a hand in something is to help to make something happen.

  • The police suspect that he has a hand in the robbery.

Have someone/something on your hands

When you have something on your hands, you have a problem that must deal with.

  • You have quite a problem on your hands.
  • If he does what he says, then we will soon have a lawsuit on our hands.

Have time on your hands

  • He must have a lot of time on his hands. He is always on Facebook.

Have your hands full

When you have your hands full, you are extremely busy with a difficult job.

  • Sorry, I can’t help you at the moment. I have my hands full.

Get out of hand = become uncontrollable

  • We decided to leave before things got out of hand.

Turn your hand to something

When you turn your hand to something, you start doing something new.

  • The former model has now turned his hand to acting.


Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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