Out of hand
Posted by Smokey Stover on June 24, 2006
In Reply to: To dismiss out of hand posted by Smokey Stover on June 23, 2006
: : : can anyone help me with the meaning and origins of the prase "to dismiss out of hand " ?
: : I found an entry in a reference. Gives the meaning but not a clear origin on this particular use of "out of hand."
: : OUT OF HAND -- "If you reject an offer or idea 'out of hand,' you do so without hesitation. However, this phrase has several different meanings, the oldest of them being 'out of control,' from the days when failure to keep a firm grip on the reins would result in a team of horses being 'out of hand.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). Page 433.
: ESC has it exactly right. The "out of hand = out of control or not being processed" meaning contrasts nicely with the "in hand = under control or being processed" meaning, as explained by the OED. "3. out of hand. a. At once, immediately, straight off; without premeditation, suddenly; extempore.
: [13-- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, line 2285. Deal to me my destiny,and do it out of hand.] c1485 Digby Myst. I. 214 Redde him of his lyff out of hand a-non. 1578 LYTE Dodoens III. lxviii. 427 Aconit is..very hurtful to mans nature, and killeth out of hande....
: b. The opposite of in hand (in various senses: see 29): No longer in process; done with; not led by the hand; from or as a result of some treatment (quot. 1823); out of or beyond control.
: 1597 SHAKES. 2 Hen. IV, III. i. 107 Were these inward Warres once out of hand, Wee would (deare Lords) vnto the Holy-Land. 1807 COLERIDGE Lett. 513 Do what you have to do at once, and put it out of hand. 1823 J. BADCOCK Dom. Amusem. 153 Though repeated with muriatic acid also, it comes out of hand in a most enviable state of whiteness. 1883 W. E. NORRIS No New Thing III. xv. 223 Your temper seems to have got rather out of hand....