set your hand to = put your hand to
start work on
A fuller version of this phrase is set your hand to the plough which alludes to Luke 9 : 62 : No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
RELATED IDIOMS :
the entire crew of a ship
A US variant of this phrase is all hands and the cook
meaning absolutely everyone available, since the cook would not normally be expected to do the work of other team members except in cases of dire emergency. All hands on deck
or all hands to the pumps
, in addition to their literal shipboard senses, are also used to indicate that all members of a team are required to be involved.
be a dab hand at
be expert at
Dab in this sense is recorded since the late 17th century. But its origin is unknown.
1998 Bookseller Stephanie Cabot is apparently a dab hand at milking cows, according to one of those mystifying diary items in Skateboarders' Weekly.
bind his hand and foot = tie his hand and foot
severely restrict someone's freedom to act or make decisions.
do something with one hand behind your back = do something with one hand tied behind your back
do something easily
get your hand in = keep your hand in
become (or remain) practised in something.
get your hands dirty
do manual, menial or other hard work
become directly involved in dishonest or dishonorable activity – informal
1998 - Spectator - Unlike its sister churches in the West, the Catholic Church in the
Philippines is not afraid to get its hands dirty.
give a hand = lend a hand
assist in an action or enterprise
give someone the glad hand
offer someone a warm and hearty, but often insincere, greeting or welcome – informal
hand in glove
in close collusion or association
This phrase appeared earlier in the late 17th century as hand and glove
. The current form gained ground from the late 18th century.
a hand's turn
a stroke of work – informal
1982 - Rodney Hall - Just Relations - Rich was she? A wallowing pig in jewels and wicked money she never did a hand's turn to earn for herself?
from hand to mouth
satisfying only your immediate needs because of lack of money for future plans and investments
1960 - Lynne Reid Banks - The L-Shaped Room - I'm twenty-eight years old and I'm still living from
hand to mouth like a bloody tramp.
(especially of winning) easily and decisively
Originally a horse-racing expression, win hands down
meant that a jockey was so certain of victory in the closing stages of a race that he could lower his hands, thereby relaxing his hold on the reins and ceasing to urge on his horse.
used to warn someone against touching or interfering with something
have your hand in the till
stealing from your employer
make money hand over fist = lose money hand over fist = spend money hand over fist
make (or lose or spend) money very rapidly – informal
This phrase first appeared in the mid 18th century as hand over hand. Found in nautical contexts, it referred to the movement of a person's hands when rapidly climbing a rope or hauling it in. By the mid 19th century, hand over hand was being used to mean advancing continuously and rapidly
, especially of one ship pursuing another, Hand over fist
is first recorded in the early 19th century, also in a nautical context, but it was soon used more generally to indicate speed, especially in the handling of money.
1991 - Simon Winchester - Pacific – Japan continued making money hand over fist, the American trade deficit became steadily larger and larger.
on his hands = off his hands
having (or not having) to be dealt with or looked after by the person specified
put your hands together
put your hands up
raise your hands in surrender or to signify assent or participation
the right hand does not know what the left hand does
there is a state of confusion or a failure of communication within a group or organization
sit on your hands
take no action
1998 -Times - The England selectors, historically, find reasons to sit on their hands.
take a hand in
become influential in determining something
1988 - Shetland Times - The amenity trust is also taking a hand in restoring two old gravestones in the Ollaberry kirkyard.
turn your hand to something
undertake an activity different from your usual occupation
1994 - Barbara - Anderson All the Nice Girls Win had always told him he was an able man, a fixer, one who could turn his hand to anything.
wait on someone hand and foot
attend to all of someone's needs or requests, especially when this is regarded as unreasonable.
1955 L. P. Hartley A Perfect Woman He has everything he wants and servants who wait on him hand and foot.
wash your hands of
disclaim responsibility for
This phrase originally alluded to the biblical description of Pontius Pilate, who, when he was forced to condemn Jesus to death, sent for a bowl of water and ritually washed his hands before the crowd as a sign that he was innocent of this just person (Matthew 27 : 24).
with your hand in the cookie jar
engaged in surreptitious theft from your employer - North American informal
put your hand to :
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