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.
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.”
- 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.