Hands Down


The phrase ‘hands down‘ is an idiom that means easily, definitely; without question.

Example: I ate chocolate lava cake for the first time and it was hands down the best dessert I’ve eaten. In other words, it was without a doubt the best.

1. Without a doubt
2. Without question

The Origin Of ‘Hands Down’

Where does this expression come from? It’s believed that the phrase hands down originates from horse racing. Why is that? Well, throughout a race, jockey’s will usually have a firm grip on their horse’s reins. This helps them control the speed and direction of their horse. Towards the end of a race, if a jockey noticed that he had a comfortable lead over the rest of the competition, he might decide to relax his grip on the reins while nearing the finish line, perhaps even lowering his hands. Thus, a rider that won with his ‘hands down’ probably felt that they were definitely going to win.

So how old is this phrase? It’s earliest appears in print that I know of comes from the mid-19th century. Several newspapers from that time used it in connection with horse racing; for example, in the Evening Herald newspaper, printed in London, 1861, a detailed summary of a race was given and a part from it reads:

“Soon after rounding the turn into the straight, Marignan deprived Bannerdale of the lead, and won hands down by four lengths, half a length between the second and third.”

Example Sentences

  • This cheeseburger is hands down the tastiest burger I’ve had all year; I’ll have to order from here more often.
  • I replaced the portable heater in my apartment with another brand and so far, it is hands down better than my old one.

Similar Examples:

  • I spent a few days cleaning every nook and cranny of my home and now I think it’s definitely the cleanest it has been in years.
  • This is without question one of the most stressful weeks I’ve experienced.

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