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Gentleman's handshake?

Posted by Sauerkraut on October 10, 2000

In Reply to: Gentleman's handshake? posted by jane on October 09, 2000

: where oh where does the phrase 'A gentleman's handshake' come from and when did the public start to use it?

Where to begin - and this applies to gentlemen's agreement as well. The custom of shaking hands began in the days of chivalry, when it was a way of showing that one had no weapons when meeting another person. This also gave rise to tipping one's hat - or in the old days, removing one's metal helmet that was part of a suit of armor - thus indicating trust that the person being met wouldn't lop off your head.

Shaking hands, and gentlemen's agreement was a way of sealing a deal without cumbersome paperwork and the expense of having a lawyer draw up a formal contract. In those tender days of yore, a man's (person's) word was sacred, and could be relied on.

Thus comes the expression "let's shake on it" to indicate commitment and agreement. Too bad it doesn't work well these days.