• definitions

hand over fist

[ hand ]SEE DEFINITION OF hand over fist

Synonyms for hand over fist

  • ASAP
  • amain
  • apace
  • at once
  • immediately
  • increasingly
  • instantly
  • speedily
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The cholera year of 1832 seems to have made Methodists hand over fist.

Hes at the back of the bunch; a Shrewsburg fellows passing him hand over fist.

The red roadster was not only leaving the frightened herd behind, but was coming up with the cowboy, hand over fist.

It's a rather small, black craft, walking up on us hand over fist.

In fact, he was getting rich, hand over fist, and was vastly respected.

Overhauling the fugitives, hand over fist, were two large biplanes.

Now he commenced fur to gain on me, hand over fist; so I made up my mind to do somethin' desprit.

It's been standing for months and I happen to know that you are making money all the time, hand over fist.

She has spent the best part of half a century equipping herself, hand over fist, for this kind of commercial contest.

Some of de Niggers went on a buyin' spree, an' dey bought land, hand over fist.


Old English hond, hand "hand; side; power, control, possession," from Proto-Germanic *khanduz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch, German hand, Old Norse hönd, Gothic handus). The original Old English plural handa was superseded in Middle English by handen, later hands.

Meaning "person who does something with his hands" is from 1580s, hence "hired workman" (1630s) and "sailor in a ship's crew" (1660s). Clock and watch sense is from 1570s. Meaning "round of applause" is from 1838. The linear measure of 4 inches (originally 3) is from 1560s, now used only in giving the height of horses. The meaning "playing cards held in one player's hand" is from 1620s; that of "a round at a card game" is from 1620s.

First hand, second hand, etc. (mid-15c.) are from the notion of something being passed down from hand to hand. Out of hand (1590s) is opposite of in hand "under control" (c.1200). Hand over fist (1825) is suggestive of sailors and fishermen hauling in nets. Hand jive is from 1958. To win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.

To hand it to (someone) "acknowledge someone's ability" is slang from c.1906. Phrase on the one hand ... on the other hand is recorded from 1630s, a figurative use of the physical sense of hand in reference to position on one side or the other side of the body (as in the lefthand side), which goes back to Old English Hands up! as a command from a policeman, robber, etc., is from 1873. Hand-to-mouth is from c.1500. Hand-in-hand attested from c.1500 as "with hands clasped;" figurative sense of "concurrently" recorded from 1570s.



adverbwithout difficulty
Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.