Try This:

Guess the meaning of the following sentences:

Connect 英会話 is hands down one of the best schools of Nishi-Funabashi and Ichinoe.  

Kana is the funniest student in the school, hands down.

That cheesecake was hands down the best one ever. Have you guessed the meaning of it yet? It means something is true without a doubt, or definitely.

It has a second meaning as well. Guess these sentences: The Tigers won the game, hands down; I finished my tasks today with my hands down. If you guessed it means something was done with little effort, you were right.

Where did this phrasal verb come from?

What do you imagine when you hear it by itself? How about a room full of people not having to raise their hands to vote because it’s obvious that something is true? Some people may think of a person who doesn’t have to move his hands for what he wants to be done to happen. All these ideas seem logical and they are good ways to remember this useful phrasal verb, but the origin of the word makes more sense.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the phrasal verb came from horse racing in the 19th century. Normally, jockeys would force their horses to run faster and harder by pulling on their reins. A newspaper published a story about a horse in a race that had such a great lead that the jockey could let the horse’s reins loose and win with his hands down. And that is how this idiomatic expression was created.

How do we use it?

Well, you can use it in any situation when 1)something was done with little effort or 2) people have no doubt about something being true.

Here are some more examples for you:

  • That fighter won the boxing match hands down.
  • M Night Shyamalan is hands down the worst movie director.
  • Nishi-Funabashi is hands down the best place to get a drink at night.


There you have it. Not only do you know how to use the word, you know where it came from. Give it a try in our comment section below.

If you feel that you have trouble remembering vocabulary or idiomatic phrases, have a look at my earlier post here.  Also, feel free to write to us at Connect 英会話 in Nishi-Funabashi with any questions about English. I’ll see you in class!

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