Definition of hand noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//hænd//
    ; NAmE NAmE//hænd//
    Body parts, Card games, Hands and nails, People in sea travel
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    part of body
  1. 1   [countable] the part of the body at the end of the arm, including the fingers and thumb Ian placed a hand on her shoulder. Put your hand up if you know the answer. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times. She was on (her) hands and knees(= crawling on the floor) looking for an earring. Couples strolled past holding hands. Give me your hand (= hold my hand) while we cross the road. The crowd threw up their hands (= lifted them into the air) in dismay. He killed the snake with his bare hands (= using only his hands). a hand towel (= a small towel for drying your hands on) a hand drill (= one that is used by turning a handle rather than powered by electricity) Vocabulary BuildingUsing your handsTouchThese verbs describe different ways of touching things: feelI felt the bag to see what was in it. fingerShe fingered the silk delicately. handleHandle the fruit with care. rubShe rubbed her eyes wearily. strokeThe cat loves being stroked. patHe patted my arm and told me not to worry. tapSomeone was tapping lightly at the door. squeezeI took his hand and squeezed it.HoldYou can use these verbs to describe taking something quickly: grabI grabbed his arm to stop myself from falling. snatchShe snatched the letter out of my hand.These verbs describe holding things tightly: claspHer hands were clasped behind her head. clutchThe child was clutching a doll in her hand. graspGrasp the rope with both hands and pull. gripHe gripped his bag tightly and wouldn’t let go. CollocationsPhysical appearance A person may be described as having:Eyes (bright) blue/​green/(dark/​light) brown/​hazel eyes deep-set/​sunken/​bulging/​protruding eyes small/​beady/​sparkling/​twinkling/(informal) shifty eyes piercing/​penetrating/​steely eyes bloodshot/​watery/​puffy eyes bushy/​thick/​dark/​raised/​arched eyebrows long/​dark/​thick/​curly/​false eyelashes/​lashesFace a flat/​bulbous/​pointed/​sharp/​snub nose a straight/​a hooked/​a Roman/(formal) an aquiline nose full/​thick/​thin/​pouty lips dry/​chapped/​cracked lips flushed/​rosy/​red/​ruddy/​pale cheeks soft/​chubby/​sunken cheeks white/​perfect/​crooked/​protruding teeth a large/​high/​broad/​wide/​sloping forehead a strong/​weak/​pointed/​double chin a long/​full/​bushy/​wispy/​goatee beard a long/​thin/​bushy/​droopy/​handlebar/​pencil moustache/ (especially US English) mustacheHair and skin pale/​fair/​olive/​dark/​tanned skin dry/​oily/​smooth/​rough/​leathery/​wrinkled skin a dark/​pale/​light/​sallow/​ruddy/​olive/​swarthy/​clear complexion deep/​fine/​little/​facial wrinkles blonde/​blond/​fair/(light/​dark) brown/(jet-)black/​auburn/​red/(British English) ginger/​grey hair straight/​curly/​wavy/​frizzy/​spiky hair thick/​thin/​fine/​bushy/​thinning hair dyed/​bleached/​soft/​silky/​dry/​greasy/​shiny hair long/​short/​shoulder-length/​cropped hair a bald/​balding/​shaved head a receding hairline a bald patch/​spot a side/​centre/(US English) center (British English) parting/ (North American English) partBody a long/​short/​thick/​slender/(disapproving) scrawny neck broad/​narrow/​sloping/​rounded/​hunched shoulders a bare/​broad/​muscular/​small/​large chest a flat/​swollen/​bulging stomach a small/​tiny/​narrow/​slim/​slender/28-inch waist big/​wide/​narrow/​slim hips a straight/​bent/​arched/​broad/​hairy back thin/​slender/​muscular arms big/​large/​small/​manicured/​calloused/​gloved hands long/​short/​fat/​slender/​delicate/​bony fingers long/​muscular/​hairy/​shapely/(both informal, often disapproving) skinny/​spindly legs muscular/​chubby/(informal, disapproving) flabby thighs big/​little/​small/​dainty/​wide/​narrow/​bare feet a good/​a slim/​a slender/​an hourglass figure be of slim/​medium/​average/​large/​athletic/​stocky build see also left-hand, hot hand, right-hand See related entries: Body parts, Hands and nails
  2. -handed
  3. 2(in adjectives) using the hand or number of hands mentioned a one-handed catch left-handed scissors (= intended to be held in your left hand) More Like This Compound adjectives for physical characteristics -beaked, -bellied, -billed, -blooded, -bodied, -cheeked, -chested, -eared, -eyed, -faced, -fingered, -footed, -haired, -handed, -headed, -hearted, -hipped, -lidded, -limbed, -mouthed, -necked, -nosed, -skinned, -tailed, -throated, -toothedSee worksheet.
  4. help
  5. 3  a hand [singular] (informal) help in doing something Let me give you a hand with those bags (= help you to carry them). Do you need a hand with those invoices? The neighbours are always willing to lend a hand.
  6. role in situation
  7. 4[singular] hand in something the part or role that somebody/something plays in a particular situation; somebody’s influence in a situation Early reports suggest the hand of rebel forces in the bombings. Several of his colleagues had a hand in his downfall. This appointment was an attempt to strengthen her hand in policy discussions.
  8. on clock/watch
  9. 5[countable] (usually in compounds) a part of a clock or watch that points to the numbers see also hour hand, minute hand, second hand
  10. worker
  11. 6[countable] a person who does physical work on a farm or in a factory see also chargehand, farmhand, hired hand, stagehand
  12. sailor
  13. 7[countable] a sailor on a ship All hands on deck! see also deckhand See related entries: People in sea travel
  14. hand-
  15. 8(in compounds) by a person rather than a machine hand-painted pottery hand-knitted This item should be hand washed. see also handmade
  16. in card games
  17. 9[countable] a set of playing cards given to one player in a game to be dealt a good/bad hand See related entries: Card games
  18. 10[countable] one stage of a game of cards I'll have to leave after this hand. Wordfinderace, card, cut, deal, gambling, hand, jack, shuffle, suit, trump See related entries: Card games
  19. writing
  20. 11[singular] (old use) a particular style of writing see also freehand
  21. measurement for horse
  22. 12 [countable] a unit for measuring the height of a horse, equal to 4 inches or 10.16 centimetres
  23. see also dab hand, old hand, second-hand, underhand
    Word OriginOld English hand, hond, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hand and German Hand.Extra examples A heavy hand clamped over her mouth. A large hand descended on his shoulder. A strong hand reached out and caught hold of her arm. A surgeon needs a good eye and a steady hand. At harvest time all the locals lend a hand. Beth grasped the rope with both hands. Can you give me a hand with loading the van? Clive ran a hand through his hair. Delicate clothes should be washed by hand. Eager hands reached out to help him. Guards made sure that the food supplies didn’t fall into the wrong hands. Hannah grasped her hand. He beat his hands on the steering wheel in frustration. He clutched the cane in his clammy hand. He grabbed my hand and motioned for me to follow him. He had his hands clasped behind his head. He holds out a bony hand for her to shake. He killed the lion with his bare hands. He laid a gentle hand on his brother’s shoulder. He laid a hand on her arm. He lifted his hand to her face. He offered a limp hand to shake. He put a friendly hand on his friend’s knee. He put out a hand as if to touch her. He reached for her hand and held it tightly. He retired feeling confident that his company was in safe hands. He rubbed his hands together in satisfaction. He sat with his head in his hands. He shook Blake’s hand as if they were long lost friends. He shook hands with all of us before leaving. He slid his hands into his pockets. He threw up his hands in despair when he saw the damage. He was on his hands and knees, looking for a contact lens. He was sobbing and wringing his hands by the grave. He wiped his greasy hands on the front of his overalls. Her busy hands had transformed the tiny room into a work of art. Her hand flew to her mouth. ‘Oh no!’ Her hand lifted to place a cigarette in her mouth. Her hand moved to cover his. Her hand ran over the surface, feeling the different textures. Her hand shook as she lifted the glass to her lips. His hand brushed against hers. His hand eventually found the light switch. His hand froze in mid-gesture. His hand rested on her shoulder. His hand, when she shook it, was cool and firm. His hands clawed at the muddy earth. His hands cupped her face. His hands dropped to his sides and he fell to the floor. His hands roamed over her shoulders. I cupped my hand over the mouthpiece of the phone so they couldn’t hear me. I desperately need to lay my hands on some money by Monday. I don’t work in that department any more, so the problem is out of my hands. I felt a hand on my shoulder. Jimmy slapped his hand over his mouth. Mail for hand delivery is put in a separate tray. Muriel’s hand crept to her neck to hold her pearls. My hand groped for the door handle. My hand hovered over the switch for a moment. My hands clenched together tightly. My hands fumbled with the key. Now the EU has revealed its hand. Operate the gears with your left hand. Purée with a hand blender or food processor. Several students put up their hands to answer the question. She asked for a show of hands. She clenched her hands in her lap to hide their trembling. She felt that life had dealt her a bad hand. She filled our glasses with a generous hand. She folds her hands in prayer. She gained a reputation as a safe pair of hands. She gestured to the window with an open hand. She had a piece of paper in her hand. She had large rings on both hands. She held on to my hand as I tried to leave. She held up her hand in farewell. She pressed his hand. ‘I know, ’ she said softly. She put her hands to her cheeks in embarrassment. She rested her chin in her cupped hand. She shivered, rubbing her hands together fiercely. She shrugged and spread her hands. ‘That’s all I can tell you.’ She smiled and extended a hand in welcome. She stood in the doorway, hands on hips. She stood up and went over to him, her hands outstretched. She studied the object in the palm of her hand. She took the child’s hand and helped him climb the steps. She walked towards him with her hand outstretched to take his. She warned her brother to keep his hands off her bag. Slowly Ruth withdrew her hand from his. The farmer would bring in hired hands to help him harvest the crop. The party leadership overplayed its hand. The policeman kept a firm hand clamped on his shoulder. The rocks looked like they had been shaped by human hands. The strategic alliance served to strengthen the country’s hand in the region. There’s plenty of work for willing hands They walked along, holding hands. They walked hand in hand along the path. We were all clapping our hands in time to the music. Who dealt the last hand? With a practised hand he motioned a waiter to bring a fresh pot of coffee. With his free hand he took hold of the knife. You can take your laptop on the plane as hand luggage. a hand recount of the vote for governor the invisible hand of the market Early reports suggest the hand of rebel forces in the bombings. He knew that he would never be anything more than a hired hand. This appointment was an attempt to strengthen her hand in policy discussions.Idioms
    all hands on deck (also all hands to the pump)
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    (saying, humorous) everyone helps or must help, especially in a difficult situation There are 30 people coming to dinner tonight, so it's all hands on deck.
    close to you in time or distance Help was at hand. The property is ideally located with all local amenities close at hand.
    at the hands of somebody, at somebody’s hands
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    (formal) if you experience something at the hands of somebody, they are the cause of it They suffered years of repression at the hands of the old regime.
    be good with your hands
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    to be skilful at making or doing things with your hands
      bind/tie somebody hand and foot
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    1. 1to tie somebody’s hands and feet together so that they cannot move or escape
    2. 2to prevent somebody from doing what they want by creating rules, restrictions, etc.
    a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
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    (saying) it is better to keep something that you already have than to risk losing it by trying to get much more
    bite the hand that feeds you
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    to harm somebody who has helped you or supported you
    1. 1  by a person rather than a machine The fabric was painted by hand.
    2. 2  if a letter is delivered by hand, it is delivered by the person who wrote it, or somebody who is sent by them, rather than by post/mail
    (British English, informal) if you pay for goods and services cash in hand, you pay in cash, especially so that the person being paid can avoid paying tax on the amount a cash-in-hand payment of £20 See related entries: Describing jobs to pass to a different owner The house has changed hands several times. near; in a place where somebody/something can be reached easily There are good cafes and a restaurant close at hand.
    the dead hand of something
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    an influence that controls or restricts something We need to free business from the dead hand of bureaucracy.
    the devil makes work for idle hands
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    (saying) people who do not have enough to do often start to do wrong She blamed the crimes on the local jobless teenagers. ‘The devil makes work for idle hands,’ she would say.
    eat out of your/somebody’s hand
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    to trust somebody and be willing to do what they say She'll have them eating out of her hand in no time.
    fall into somebody’s hands/the hands of somebody
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    (formal) to become controlled by somebody The town fell into enemy hands. We don't want this document falling into the wrong hands. After the war, the hotel fell into the hands of an American consortium.
    strong control or discipline Those children need a firm hand to make them behave. by experiencing, seeing, etc. something yourself rather than being told about it by somebody else The President visited the area to see the devastation at first hand. to bring or hold your hands together She kept her hands folded in her lap.
    force somebody’s hand
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    to make somebody do something that they do not want to do or make them do it sooner than they had intended They decided to strike to force the management’s hand.
    gain, get, have, etc. the upper hand
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    to get an advantage over somebody so that you are in control of a particular situation
    to do physical work He's not frightened of getting his hands dirty.
    get, have, etc. a free hand
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    to get, have, etc. the opportunity to do what you want to do and to make your own decisions I was given a free hand in designing the syllabus.
    give somebody/get a big hand
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    to show your approval of somebody by clapping your hands; to be applauded in this way Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a big hand to our special guests tonight.
    give/lend a helping hand
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    to help somebody
    go cap in hand (to somebody) (also US English go hat in hand)
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    to ask somebody for something, especially money, in a very polite way that makes you seem less important There’s no way he’ll go cap in hand to his brother.
    go hat in hand (to somebody) (North American English) (especially British English go cap in hand (to somebody))
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    to ask somebody for something, especially money, in a very polite way that makes you seem less important
    somebody’s hand (in marriage)
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    (old-fashioned) permission to marry somebody, especially a woman He asked the general for his daughter's hand in marriage.
    hand in glove (with somebody)
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    working closely with somebody, especially in a secret and/or illegal way
    1. 1if two people are hand in hand, they are holding each other’s hand They walked through the park hand in hand.
    2. 2if two things go hand in hand, they are closely connected and one thing causes the other Poverty and poor health often go hand in hand.
    (informal) easily and without any doubt They won hands down. It is hands down the best movie this year. see also hands-down
    (get/take your) hands off (something/somebody)
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    (informal) used to tell somebody not to touch something/somebody Get your hands off my wife! Hey, hands off! That's my drink!
    1. 1used to tell a group of people to raise one hand in the air if they know the answer to a question, etc. Hands up all those who want to go swimming.
    2. 2used by somebody who is threatening people with a gun to tell them to raise both hands in the air
    have somebody’s blood on your hands
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    to be responsible for somebody’s death a dictator with the blood of thousands on his hands
    to be very busy or too busy to do something else She certainly has her hands full with four kids in the house. to be unable to do what you want to do because of rules, promises, etc. I really wish I could help but my hands are tied.
    have somebody in the palm of your hand
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    to have complete control or influence over somebody Even before he plays a note, he has the audience in the palm of his hand.
    have time on your hands, have time to kill
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    (informal) to have nothing to do or not be busy
    have/hold, etc. the whip hand (over somebody/something)
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    to be in a position where you have power or control over somebody/something She had the whip hand and it was useless to resist.
    a way of doing something or of treating people that is much stronger and less sensitive than it needs to be the heavy hand of management to give somebody support in a difficult situation Do you want me to come along and hold your hand?
    hold/put your hands up (to something)
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    to admit that you have made a mistake or are responsible for something bad I have to hold my hands up and admit that some of the problems have been all my own fault. The solicitor confirmed that his clients were holding their hands up to the offences.
    in somebody’s capable, safe, etc. hands
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    being taken care of or dealt with by somebody that you think you can rely on Can I leave these queries in your capable hands?
    1. 1if you have time or money in hand, it is left and available to be used We managed to redecorate the house and still have some savings in hand. She completed the first part of the exam with over an hour in hand.
    2. 2if you have a particular situation in hand, you are in control of it Don’t worry about the travel arrangements—everything is in hand.
    3. 3the job, question, etc. in hand is the one that you are dealing with Please confine your comments to the topic in hand.
    4. 4if somebody works a week, month, etc. in hand, they are paid for the work a week, etc. after they have completed it
    in the hands of somebody, in somebody’s hands
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     being taken care of or controlled by somebody The matter is now in the hands of my lawyer. At that time, the castle was in enemy hands.
    in safe hands, in the safe hands of somebody
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    being taken care of well by somebody I've left the kids in safe hands—with my parents. Their problem was in the safe hands of the experts.
    an iron fist/hand (in a velvet glove)
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    if you use the words an iron fist/hand when describing the way that somebody behaves, you mean that they treat people severely. This treatment may be hidden behind a kind appearance (the velvet glove). They promised that the army would strike with an iron fist at any resistance. The iron hand in the velvet glove approach seems to work best with this age group.
    I’ve only got one pair of hands
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    (informal) used to say that you are too busy to do anything else
      join hands (with somebody)
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    1. 1if two people join hands, they hold each other’s hands
    2. 2to work together in doing something Education has been reluctant to join hands with business.
    to occasionally do something that you used to do a lot so that you do not lose your skill at it She retired last year but still teaches the odd class to keep her hand in.
    know somebody/something inside out, know somebody/something like the back of your hand
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    (informal) to be very familiar with somebody/something This is where I grew up. I know this area like the back of my hand.
    lay/get your hands on somebody
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    to catch somebody that you are annoyed with Wait till I get my hands on him!
    lay/get your hands on something
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    to find or get something I know their address is here somewhere, but I can't lay my hands on it right now. Do you know where I can get my hands on a second-hand television?
    live (from) hand to mouth
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    to spend all the money you earn on basic needs such as food without being able to save any money
    make/lose money hand over fist
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    to make/lose money very fast and in large quantities
    many hands make light work
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    (saying) used to say that a job is made easier if a lot of people help
    (old-fashioned) to do no work She hasn't done a hand's turn all week.
    not lift/raise a finger/hand (to do something)
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    (informal) to do nothing to help somebody The children never lift a finger to help around the house.
    (formal) to hold out your hand for somebody to shake no longer your responsibility (literary) on both/all sides; in both/all directions Mist curled from the water on either hand. available, especially to help The emergency services were on hand with medical advice. if you have somebody/something on your hands, you are responsible for them or it Let me take care of the invitations—you've enough on your hands with the caterers. They’ll have a fight on their hands if they want to close down the school.
    (on the one hand…) on the other (hand)…
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    used to introduce different points of view, ideas, etc., especially when they are opposites On the one hand they'd love to have kids, but on the other, they don't want to give up their freedom. Language BankcontrastHighlighting differences This survey highlights a number of differences in the way that teenage boys and girls in the UK spend their free time. One of the main differences between the girls and the boys who took part in the research was the way in which they use the Internet. Unlike the girls, who use the Internet mainly to keep in touch with friends, the boys questioned in this survey tend to use the Internet for playing computer games. The girls differ from the boys in that they tend to spend more time keeping in touch with friends on the telephone or on social networking websites. Compared to the boys, the girls spend much more time chatting to friends on the telephone. On average the girls spend four hours a week chatting to friends on the phone. In contrast, very few of the boys spend more than five minutes a day talking to their friends in this way. The boys prefer competitive sports and computer games, whereas/while the girls seem to enjoy more cooperative activities, such as shopping with friends. When the girls go shopping, they mainly buy clothes and cosmetics. The boys, on the other hand, tend to purchase computer games or gadgets.
    1. 1difficult or impossible to control Unemployment is getting out of hand.
    2. 2if you reject, etc. something out of hand, you do so immediately without thinking about it fully or listening to other people’s arguments All our suggestions were dismissed out of hand.
    no longer your responsibility I'm afraid the matter is now out of my hands. to spoil your chance of success by judging your position to be stronger than it really is (informal) a person who can do, or is doing, a job We need an extra pair of hands if we're going to finish on time. Colleagues regard him as a safe pair of hands (= somebody who can be relied on to do a job well).
    play into somebody’s hands
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    to do exactly what an enemy, opponent, etc. wants so that they gain the advantage in a particular situation If we get the police involved, we'll be playing right into the protesters' hands.
    put your hand in your pocket
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    (British English) to spend money or give it to somebody I've heard he doesn't like putting his hand in his pocket.
    (like) putty in somebody’s hands
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    easily controlled or influenced by another person She'll persuade him. He's like putty in her hands.
    raise a/your hand against/to somebody
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    to hit or threaten to hit somebody
    (especially British English) a person that you can trust to do a job well
    (at) second, third, etc. hand
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    by being told about something by somebody else who has seen it or heard about it, not by experiencing, seeing, etc. it yourself I'm fed up of hearing about these decisions third hand!
    show your hand/cards (North American English also tip your hand)
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    to make your plans or intentions known
    a group of people each raising a hand to vote for or against something The vote was passed by a show of hands. Let’s have a show of hands. Who’s in favour of the proposal? (old-fashioned or literary) to stop yourself from doing something; to prevent you from doing something
    take your courage in both hands
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    to make yourself do something that you are afraid of Taking her courage in both hands, she opened the door and walked in. See related entries: Brave
    to deal with somebody in a strict way in order to improve their behaviour
    take something into your own hands
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    to deal with a particular situation yourself because you are not happy with the way that others are dealing with it
    take the law into your own hands
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    to do something illegal in order to punish somebody for doing something wrong, instead of letting the police deal with them After a series of burglaries in the area, the police are worried that residents might take the law into their own hands.
    take your life in your hands
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    to risk being killed You take your life in your hands just crossing the road here.
    (informal) to stop doing something or taking part in something, especially because you are not successful that you can reach or get easily I'm afraid I don't have the latest figures to hand. Keep a pen and paper to hand for details of this week’s competition.
    try your hand (at something)
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    to do something such as an activity or a sport for the first time
    turn your hand to something
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    to start doing something or be able to do something, especially when you do it well Jim can turn his hand to most jobs around the house.
    wait on somebody hand and foot
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    (disapproving) to take care of somebody’s needs so well that they do not have to do anything for themselves He seems to expect me to wait on him hand and foot.
    wash your hands of somebody/something
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    to refuse to be responsible for or involved with somebody/something When her son was arrested again she washed her hands of him. I’ve washed my hands of the whole sordid business.
    win (something) hands down
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    (informal) to win something very easily
    wring somebody’s hand
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    to squeeze somebody’s hand very tightly when you shake hands
    to hold your hands together, and twist and squeeze them in a way that shows you are anxious or upset, especially when you cannot change the situation
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: hand