Posted by ESC on April 02, 2003
In Reply to: High-handed posted by Woodchuck on April 02, 2003
: : Hello, I was just hoping some one might know the etymology of the term "high-handed". Thanks in advance for any assistance.
: According to Brewer's Phrase and Fable, with a high hand is from the french phrase "Faire une chose haut la main."
: However, google turned up several christian sites claiming the Hebrew for 'presumptuously' is "with a high hand," meaning open rebellion.
HIGH-HANDED -- Numbers 33:3 "And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians." One reference says: in the Bible "the direct ancestor of this phrase means 'triumphantly.' It is used in describing the departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage..The description does suggest a certain amount of arrogance, however, and it is probably from this passage that 'high-handed' came, with the passage of time, to mean arrogant or overbearing." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
FYI - a good Bible verse look-up site http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible I had a little trouble because Mr. Hendrickson had the chapter number wrong.
See also - other French phrases in English.