One hand washes the other
What's the meaning of the phrase 'One hand washes the other'?
The proverb 'one hand washes the other' expresses the idea that mutual cooperation can help both parties.
It is similar to other proverbs, like 'one good turn deserves another' and 'you scratch my back and I'll scrtach yours.
What's the origin of the phrase 'One hand washes the other'?
This old proverb originated in Germany. It entered the English language by virtue of a publication of the English Tudor courtier William Bavand.
In 1599 Bavand translated the German lawyer Joannes Ferrarius' work Touchynge the Good Orderynge of a Common Weale, which included the line:
As it were one hande washeth an other, and one man aideth an other.
The notion is illustrated by Drawing Hands, the line drawing by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher, although that might be better expressed as 'one hand draws the other'.
See also: the List of Proverbs.
Other 'One' phrases: