This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
What is the origin of the expression "hands down"? It means to win easily or without question.
Submitted by Robert Degerberg (Gladwyne, PA - U.S.A.)
Signature: Topic imported and archived
The phrase refers to a jockey dropping his hands, and so relaxing his hold on the reins, when victory appears certain.
Signature: Jonathon Green