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WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - Expressions Use Hand

By Marilyn Christiano

Broadcast: Sunday, April 03, 2005

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Now, the VOA Special English program, "Words and Their Stories".

The hand has been a symbol through the ages and in many cultures. There are hundreds of expressions and combinations of words using hand in the English language. Let us examine some of the expressions that use hand.

We will get a hand in this way. To get a hand in is to begin a job. To begin to know something about it. When we learned completely, it will be easy for us. We will be able to do it hands down. If we do the job well, we may end up with the upper hand. That means to be in control or to have gain complete understanding of a situation. On the other hand, if the situation gets out of hand then , it is out of control. We must act quickly to regain the upper hand over these expressions. But wit, we still do not have the upper hand in this business. We must consider another way of expressing phrase. To hand it to someone. For example, I must hand it to you for understanding what have discussed this far. You can also lend a hand to someone but without really giving up your hand. You lend a hand when you help someone. You offer them a helping hand. If someone is kind enough to lend us a hand then we surely do not want to bite the hand that feeds us. We do not want to repay his kindness by treating him badly.

Now where that out of the way we have a free hand to continue examining other hand expressions. To have a free hand in a situation is good. It means you are free to act without getting permission from someone else. If we continue moving along, we will make progress. Hand over fist or very rapidly. This expression began in the early 1700s. It reportedly comes from a selling expression. Hand over hand . The way of quickly raising or lowering a sale. Maybe you can find a friend who wants to take a hand in our project. It would have to be someone who was interested in these expressions. Your friend may want to work hand in glove with us. That is good because that means he wants to work as closely with us as a glove covers the hand. Of course, there is a danger that may look at our project and decide to take it in hand. That means he wants to take it over. If that happens, we may throw up our hands because the situation seems hopeless. In fact, we may decide that it is time for us to end this project to wash our hands of hand expressions.

This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Marilyn Christiano. Maurice Joyce was our narrator .I'm Shirley Griffith.

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