Lend a Hand

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 26, 2005

In Reply to: Lend a Hand posted by Charlotte on March 20, 2005

: Has anyone any idea of the origin of lend a hand?? I am desperately looking and having no luck. Thanks

Hey, what happened to my post? I'll repeat it, or the sense of it. "Lend me your hand" was used by Chaucer and later writers in the sense, Extend me your hand, that I may clasp it as token of our agreement (or some such). He also used the phrase "Lend me your ears," meaning "Listen up, fellas." A much later citation in the OED, from John Florio's World of Words has "lend a hand" in the modern sense, that is, to temporarily assign that part of your body to someone else's use, that is, to help in whatever activity is going on. One can similarly lend other body parts. Someone tying a knot could say "Lend me your finger." Or he could say "Put your finger here." Either way, you get the finger back, just as you get your hand back after helping out. SS