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upper hand

the dominating or controlling position; advantage:
to have the upper hand in the fight.
Origin of upper hand
First recorded in 1475-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for upper hand
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No doubt if Feversham gains the upper hand there will be bloody work.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • It would be the same with us, if we had the upper hand, as you have now.

    The Coryston Family Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Never let yer wark get the upper hand o' yer wages—them's my maxims.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • At first it had been rather fun to let him get the upper hand.

  • Then is it not to the interest of both to get the upper hand of these?

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
British Dictionary definitions for upper hand

upper hand

the upper hand, the position of control; advantage (esp in the phrases have or get the upper hand)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Idioms and Phrases with upper hand

upper hand

Also,whip hand. A dominating or controlling position, as in Once you let Jeff get the upper hand there'll be no stopping him, or When it comes to checkers, my son-in-law generally has the whip hand. The first term alludes to an ancient game in which each player in turn grasps a stick with one hand, beginning from the bottom, and the last who can put his hand at the top wins. Its figurative use dates from the late 1400s. The variant alludes to the driver who holds the whip in a horse-drawn vehicle; it was being used figuratively by the late 1600s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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