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To Force One's Hand

Posted by TheFallen on March 04, 2003

In Reply to: To Force One's Hand posted by S. on March 04, 2003

: Does any one know the origin of the term "to force one's hand"? Might it have some thing to do with card games? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

It might well. One of the meanings given in the American Heritage Dictioary for the verb "to force" is this:-

8. Games. To cause an opponent to play (a particular card).

You will occasionally hear bridge players say something like "He ran his last two trumps and forced my king of diamonds."

This doesn't definitively state that "to force someone's hand" is an idiom from the world of card-playing, but it tends to support that theory.