Hand the Sail to Hangmen

Hand the Sail i.e. furl it.

Hand Down to Posterity (To). To leave for future generations.

Handfasting A sort of marriage. A fair was at one time held in Dumfriesshire, at which a young man was allowed to pick out a female companion to live with him. They lived, together for twelve months, and if they both liked the arrangement were man and wife. This was called hand-fasting or hand-fastening.
   This sort of contract was common among the Romans and Jews, and is not unusual in the East even now.

" `Knowest thou not that rite, holy man?' said Avenel ...;`then I will tell thee. We bordermen ... take our wives for a year and a day; that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, [they] may call the priest to marry them for life, and this we call handfasting.' " - Sir W. Scott: The Monastery, chap. xxv.
Handicap A game at cards not unlike loo, but with this difference - the winner of one trick has to put in a double stake, the winner of two tricks a triple stake, and so on. Thus: if six persons are playing, and the general stake is 1s., and A gains three tricks, he gains 6s., and has to "hand i' the cap" or pool 3s. for the next deal. Suppose A gains two tricks and B one, then A gains 4s. and B 2s., and A has to stake 3s. and B 2s. for the next deal.

"To the `Mitre Tavern' in Wood Street, a house of the greatest note in London. Here some of us fell to handicap, a sport I never knew before, which was very good." - Pepys: His Diary, Sept. 18th, 1680.
   Handicap, in racing, is the adjudging of various weights to horses differing in age, power, or speed, in order to place them all, as far as possible, on an equality. If two unequal players challenge each other at chess, the superior gives up a piece, and this is his handicap. So called from the ancient game referred to by Pepys. (See Sweepstakes, Plate-Race, etc.)
   The Winner's Handicap. The winning horses of previous races being pitted together in a race royal are first handicapped according to their respective merits: the horse that has won three races has to carry a greater weight than the horse that has won only two, and this latter more than its competitor who is winner of a single race only.

Handkerchief "The committee was at a loss to know whom next to throw the handkerchief to " (The Times). The meaning is that the committee did not know whom they were to ask next to make a speech for them: and the allusion is to the game called in Norfolk "Stir up the dumplings," and by girls "Kiss in the ring."

Handkerchief and Sword With handkerchief in one hand and sword in the other. Pretending to be sorry at a calamity, but prepared to make capital out of it.

"Abbé George ... mentions in [a letter] that `Maria Theresa stands with the handkerchief in one hand, weeping for the woes of Poland, but with the sword in the other hand, ready to cut Poland in sections, and take her share.' " - Carlyle: The Diamond Necklace, chap. iv.
Handle He has a handle to his name. Some title, as "lord," "sir," "doctor." The French say Monsieur sans queue, a man without a tail (handle to his name).
   To give a handle to ... To give grounds for suspicion; as, "He certainly gave a handle to the rumour."

"He gave a handle to his enemies, and threw stumbling-blocks in the way of his friends." - Hazlitt: Spirit of the Age (James Macintosh), p. 139.
Handsome = liberal. To do the thing that is handsome; to act handsomely; to do handsome towards one.

Handwriting on the Wall (The). An announcement of some coming calamity. The allusion is to the handwriting on Belshazzar's palace-wall announcing the loss of his kingdom. (Dan. v. 5-31.)

Handycuffs Cuffs or blows given by the hand. "Fisticuffs" is now more common.

Hang Back (To). To hesitate to proceed.

Hang Fire (To). To fail in an expected result. The allusion is to a gun or pistol which fails to go off.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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