Hands Down

Meaning:

If someone says “that is hands down the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in,” they mean it is easily, without question, the most comfortable bed they have slept in.

Example: Charlie was a tasting judge at a baking contest. He had to pick a winner after trying each contestant’s dessert. After tasting them all, he said the chocolate lava cake was hands down the best.
Synonyms / Related Sayings:
1. Without a doubt
2. Without question

The Origin Of ‘Hands Down’

It’s believed the phrase hands down originates from horse racing. Why is that? Well, jockey’s usually will have a firm grip on their horse’s reins throughout a race. 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 competition, he might decide to relax his grip on the reins, even lowering his hands near the finish line. So a rider that won with his “hands down” was confident of his victory.

Okay, now let’s talk about the earliest this expression appears in print. From what I could find, that would be 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, there’s a detailed summary of a race that was given and 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

  • A new fast food place just opened near my apartment. I had lunch there today and I have to say, the cheeseburger I ordered was hands down the best I’ve eaten all year. 
  • My friend recommended me a vacuum cleaner and it was hands down better than my old one.

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