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The upper hand

Posted by Paul Guthrie on June 03, 2000

In Reply to: To gain the upper hand posted by ESC on June 02, 2000

: : Does anybody know the origin of this phrase. Does it have to do with 'hand' as in a 'hand of cards', or something else?

: I couldn't find this in my books. But I am guessing this is a baseball thing. Where they use a baseball bat ritual to see who gets to do what. The first person grabs the bottom of the bat, then the next person places his/her hand above the first. And so forth. Until the last person "gets the upper hand" at the top of the bat. Again, I must say I know nothing about sports. Sports fans?

Is there any reference to just plain "the upper hand"?

I thought I found a reference that would well precede baseball or cards, being a quote from the Bible (Psalms 9.19) which reads "Rise, Lord; let not man have the upper hand;". However when I looked it up in another bible it said "Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail".

I guess in a 'hand to hand battle' as would be more common in biblical times, having your hand in the upper position with a sword or such would be the superior position.

Anybody else have any ideas on this?