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Posted by ESC on August 11, 2003

In Reply to: "High-handed" posted by masakim on August 11, 2003

: : What does it mean to be high-handed in attitude, action, or position? Thanks.

: high-handed
: using your authority in an unreasonable way
: "She resented his high-handed manner." "high-handed and insensitive management decisions"
: Extra dictionary examples:
: "The company has a reputation for being high-handed in its treatment of clients."
: Sentences from books, newspapers, etc.:
: "But they will not understand a high-handed decision by the Florida Legislature to take the law into its own hands."
: "His high-handed dismissal of an outspoken professor brought unwanted national attention to the struggling school."
: "Mr Brown said the planned charges were the last straw for customers already angry over banks' high-handed attitude."
: "Some treated their staff in a high-handed and tyrannical way."
: "The high-handed way in which Washington dropped the idea on its Western partners accounts for some the hostile reaction it has received."
: "Their attitude towards the masses was condescending, high-handed and ultimately dictatorial."
: "These high-handed tactics were obviously risky, but they were a calculated risk."
: From _Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, New Edition_

From the archives:

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 I had a little trouble because Mr. Hendrickson had the chapter number wrong.

See also - other French phrases in English.