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.
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.”
- 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.
- 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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