- to have the authority to make decisions over someone or something
- to have a dominant position or an unfair advantage
- The man clearly has an upper hand to his wife. It is clearly reflected in the way he speaks with her.
- She wanted an upper hand in the business and hence went ahead to buy all the shares that she could find in the market.
- The prime minister has an upper hand in the decision making and not the parliament, in such cases.
- The upper hand is given to those who take it.
The phrase is speculated to have originated in America where the baseball team would be decided based on who has his hand on the upper side of the bat when both captains start from the bottom and keep putting their hand above the other. The one with the upper hand would win and get to decide his team.
Another explanation about the origin is from the way a couple holds hands. The one who has an upper hand is considered to be the dominant partner. The literary origin of the phrase comes from Thomas Macaulay’s work titled “History of England” which was published in the year 1848 but there is a record of it being used in a ballad in the 1600’s called “Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard”.
The upper hand phrase
- Upper hand meaning.
- Origin and synonyms of upper hand idiom with example sentences.
- Check upper hand in a sentence with multiple examples.
- Comprehensive definition of upper hand idiomatic phrase.
unring the bell
- once something has been done you cannot run away from it, you can only face the aftermath
- ramifications have to be withstood whenever something is done
- we cannot take back something once said or done.
- Remember Tom, you cannot unring the bell once you have sent out that mail.
- Once he was done screaming at his old parents for all the pain they had caused him, he realized that there was no unringing the bell now.
- It often happens to me that I say some really awful things to my mother even though I love her and I realize that there is no unringing the bell now.
- If only we could unring the bell, this world would be a better place to live in.
- You can only learn from the mistakes that you make and not repeat them again because unringing the bell is not an option.
The earliest use of the idiom unring the bell was in the Oregon Supreme Court case of State v. Rader, argued on May 9, 1912, decided on May 28, 1912.This idiom is sometimes used in jury trials to describe the judge’s instructions to the jury to ignore inadmissible evidence and statements they come across in trials.
use your loaf
- To tell someone to use their brain more in analysing what they are doing.
- To use common sense.
- This phrase is used in an angry tone.
- It is an old fashioned UK way of talking to tell someone to be more mindful.
- ‘Loaf’ here is equivalent to ‘head’.
- I do not like it that you talk about people’s disabilities so often. You ought to use your loaf and understand that you may be hurting someone’s sentiments.
- Is it so hard to use your loaf and understand how much pain she is going through currently?
- “I do not mind going through it again but when writing the exam you will need to use your loaf and get it right”, said the angry mother to her daughter.
In World War One, the soldiers would dig trenches and hid in it for days until the firing reduced or stopped. If a soldier in this situation wanted to come out he could not risk his head out first since he would very likely be shot and killed. Soldiers would use a loaf of bread and stick it out first to see if the snipers are still around. This is when loaf became a synonym for this phrase to come into existence.
This idiom was originated in United Kingdom of Great Britain.
until the cows come home
also till the cows come home
- for a very long time
- for an indefinite time
- We can keep on arguing about this till the cows come home, but it won’t solve anything.
- At the pace you are going, you won’t finish the project till the cows come home.
- You can keep on trying to convince till the cows come home, but I won’t change my views.
- You can keep reading about investing until the cows come home, but you won’t achieve anything unless you actually start investing.
- We can talk of all that’s wrong till the cows come home, but unless we act on them, there will not be any improvement.
This phrase alludes to the time a herd of cows take to make their way home. Cows are very languid animals and take their own sweet time at an unhurried pace to return home. The phrase was first seen in print in 1829, but was probably in use before that.
the upper crust
- the aristocracy and upper classes, informal
- the highest social class or group; especially the highest circle of the upper class.
- Reservation system was developed to help the needy. Now it has become privilege for the society therefore even the upper crust are demanding reservation these days.
- Many leaders brought reform in the country by giving equal rights to all citizens else it would have been a place of rule by the upper crust.
- Many people who belong to the upper crust consider themselves special. Perhaps they’ve forgotten each being is equal in God’s eyes despite of their status on society.
- Not everyone from the upper crust looks towards others as low. Many people have broken the stereotype by uplifting the poor & working for their well-being.
- Though many countries are democratic which means equal rights for all yet it has been seen that the upper crust get added privilege in one way or the other.
- No matter you are from upper crust, you still have to work your way out to earn a life of your own, else you’ll just be recognised by the name of your family.
In Anne Elizabeth Baker’s Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases (1854) ‘Mrs Upper Crust’ is explained as the nickname for ‘any female who assumes unauthorized superiority’. The term was also current in informal American speech in the mid 19th century. The French word gratin has a similar pair of literal and metaphorical senses, being literally ‘a crust of crumbs and cheese on top of a cooked dish’ and metaphorically ‘the highest class of society’.
uncle Tom Cobley and all
- used to denote a long list of people (in British English)
- a humorous or whimsical way of saying “and others”
- Businessman, entrepreneurs, Uncle Tom Cobley and all had been invited to the Real Estate Awards function in the city last month.3
- I’m not going to send invitations to Uncle Tom Cobley and all for my wedding. I want to keep it simple hence a very few would be invited.
- Do you know when the leader’s son was born he had arranged a feast for Uncle Tom Cobley and all but many people were left unattended.
- The play consisted of Uncle Tom Cobley and all who worked at the back end & contributed towards the success of the play.
- Uncle Tom Cobley and all have registered themselves for this year’s marathon, unlike last year. Let us see how many of them turn up.
- People these days have Uncle Tom Cobley and all in their friend list over social media. I wonder if they really talk or even know each other
- Why do you need validation of your business idea from Uncle Tom Cobley and all in your family? Just consider opinion of those who care & leave the rest.
Uncle Tom Cobley is the last of a long list of men enumerated in the ballad ‘Widdicombe Fair’, which from around 1800. This phrase comes from a Devon folk song “Widecombe Fair”, collected by Sabine Baring-Gould. Its chorus ends with a long list of people: “Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawke, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.” The surname is spelt as “Cobleigh” in some references.
the late unpleasantness
- the war that took place recently
- No sooner had Japanese recovered from the late unpleasantness, a massive volcanic eruption took place destroying huge no. of lives & property.
- Don’t you think the late unpleasantness could have been avoided had our leaders communicated properly with other countries.
- The late unpleasantness of 1999 between India & Pakistan is remembered for the valour of Indian soldiers & their martyrdom.
- Had the land dispute of the bordering countries taken seriously & worked upon, the late unpleasantness could have been avoided & so could be the death of innocents.
- It was figured that the reason behind the late unpleasantness our country wasn’t any problem but a political agenda.
This phrase was originally used for the American Civil War (1861-1865).
an ugly duckling
- a young person who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations.
- one that is considered ugly or unpromising at first but has the potential to become beautiful or admirable in maturity.
- an unattractive child who becomes a beautiful or much-admired adult.
- Some people think they’ve turned into an ugly duckling whereas the truth is they are & look the same as they used to in their childhood.
- Mira was mocked for her personality when she was young, but by having been offered a movie as the lead actress, everyone realized that she was an ugly duckling.
- Aditya had no skills during his childhoods but all of a sudden he turned out to be an ugly duckling after being selected for the national football championship.
- I was going through my childhood pictures & to my amaze, I realized that I’ve turned into an ugly duckling.
- Samaira was all shy & chubby when young. Now she is the most beautiful & fittest actress; indeed, she has turned into an ugly duckling.
- The woman who takes personality development classes wasn’t so since childhood but has now turned into an ugly duckling.
- Who calls her an ugly duckling knows nothing about her. She has been exceptionally talented since childhood but never revealed it to the world.
The Ugly Duckling is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen in which the ‘ugly duckling’, mocked and jeered at by his peers, eventually develops into a beautiful swan, hence the idiom derived- an ugly duckling.
under a cloud
Meaning: under suspicion, in trouble, or out of favor.
Example: The luxury transport industry is under a cloud at the moment after newspapers revealed that many indulged in illegal activities.
under the auspices
Meaning: with the backing, support, patronage of
Example: Financial aid is being provided to the country under the auspices of the World Bank