In one's possession or care, often as a responsibility, as in As long as she had three children on her hands she couldn't get very much accomplished, or They had two houses on their hands because they hadn't sold the first before having to move. This term was first recorded in 1528. For the antonym, see .
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.