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Nov 4, 2019
This week’s theme
Words originating in the hand

This week’s words
glad hand
fingerpost
chirocracy
bareknuckle
manumission

glad_hand
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, 2012
Photo: Yahoo!

Previous week’s theme
Eponyms from fiction
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

What does a surgeon have in common with a palmist? Both work with hands, etymologically speaking. The word surgeon is another spelling for chirurgeon, from Greek cheir (hand). That’s where the similarity ends. One is based on science, another on mumbo-jumbo.

The English language has more than a handful of terms derived from hands. Among the idioms, we have: hands up, which is not the opposite of hands down; offhand, which is not the opposite of on hand; hand in, which is not the opposite of hand out, and so on. But then that’s the nature of idioms.

Well, we have tipped our hand. This week we’ll see five terms that have their origin in hands.

glad hand or glad-hand

PRONUNCIATION:
(GLAD hand)

MEANING:
noun: A hearty welcome or greeting, often insincere.
verb tr., intr.: To greet warmly, often insincerely.

ETYMOLOGY:
From glad, from Old English glaed (bright, cheerful) + hand, from Old English hand. Earliest documented use: 1895.

NOTES:
Glad-handing is typically associated with politicians, used-car salesmen, and their ilk. There’s often a hidden agenda: they are not greeting so enthusiastically because they are delighted to see you, rather they want something from you. You’d never find a dog glad-handing or glad-pawing you (cats, maybe). When they come running, tails wagging, to greet you at the front door, they mean every bit of it.

USAGE:
“The PM himself was unable to suppress a beam of triumph, as he glad-handed his fellow leaders.”
Heather Stewart & Lisa O’Carroll; Brexit Deal May Be a Rare Win-Win for Boris Johnson; The Guardian (London, UK); Oct 17, 2019.

See more usage examples of glad hand in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A king can stand people's fighting, but he can't last long if people start thinking. -Will Rogers, humorist (4 Nov 1879-1935)

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