Skip to main content

English Expressions and Sayings About Hands

I love the English language, it's so expressive and colourful, with its nuances of meaning, metaphors, puns, proverbs, and regional slang

How Many Expressions About Hands Do You Know?

The English language is inspirational, because there are so many figurative ways of saying things. It must be very difficult (albeit fascinating) to learn English as a second language. The expressions and proverbs are infinite, and I'm sure not even people whose home language is English know them all.

I have restricted this web page to sayings about hands, and even those seem endless. I have stopped at fifteen because that is enough for readers to take in at one session. However, if you think I have left out any good ones, do mention them in the Comments section at the foot of this page.

1. To Hand Over

To hand over means to give something

e.g. "Hand over the phone to Jane".

2. To Be Heavy Handed

Heavy handed means to deal with people or problems in a severe or harsh way

e.g. "It was a bit heavy handed to overule the House of Commons".

3. To Give a Hand

To Give a hand means to help

e.g. "Give me a hand with carrying this suitcase".

4. Hand on My Heart

Hand on my heart means I swear

e.g. "Hand on my heart I did not mislead the Queen about proroguing Parliament".

5. To Be Underhand

Underhand means deceitful

e.g. "Some peope think he behaved in an underhand way when he prorogued Parliament".

6. To Keep a Close Hand

Keep a close hand means watch what somebody is doing (this expression comes from playing cards)

Scroll to Continue

e.g. "He won't tell you what he has in mind because he's keeping a close hand".

7. To Have Something In Hand

In hand means in possession of something

e.g. "We have the money in hand to pay you".

8. To Hand Over

Hand or Hand over means give

e.g. "Hand over your money"


"Hand me the screwdriver"

9. To Hand it to Someone

Hand it to means to acknowledge or praise someone

e.g. "You've got to hand it to her, she knows what she's doing".

10. To Be Very Hands On

To be very hands on means to be very aware and good at something

e.g. "She's very hand on in the way she runs the business".

11. To Hold One's Hands Up

To hold your hand up means to confess

e.g. "I hold my hand up, I did a lousy job trying to conceal Karshoggi’s death".

12. A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush (This One is a Proverb)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush means what you actually have already is more valuable than the possibility that you might have even more in the future.

e.g."I thought I might try for a better job, but decided to stay put for the present, because in today's job market I feel that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".

13. Many Hands Make Light Work (Another Proverb)

Many Hands make light work means a job is easier when several people work on it

e.g. We finished putting up the staging very quickly because there were six of us on the job - many hands make light work".

Rebuilding Tacloban in the Philippines after the Tsunami known as Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in 2013

Rebuilding Tacloban in the Philippines after the Tsunami known as Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in 2013

14. To Lend a Hand or To Give a Hand

To lend a hand or give a hand means to help

e.g. "Lend me a hand to carry the mattress upstairs".

15. To Give a Hand Up

To give a hand up means to help or lift somebody up, often used in a figurative rather than literal way.

e.g. "He gave him a hand up the ladder of success".

16. To Palm

To palm means to steal and it also means to hide something inside your hand

e.g. "Someone has palmed my phone".


"The magician palmed a coin without anyone noticing".

And Here's How the Magician Does It

How Do You Use Your Knowledge of English?

Here Are Some More Words Using "Hands"

Handy man

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Diana Grant

Do Leave Comments, Questions And Suggestions Here, Especially If You Can Think of More Expressions About Hands

Arensshi from Philippines on August 15, 2020:

I love this!

nicey on October 15, 2019:

Your list is quite interesting and educative. As a writer, I need to learn how to weave figure of speech in my writing

Related Articles