Know Something Like The Back Of Your Hand - 'HAND' Idioms

Idiom of the Day – to know something like the back of your hand

to know something like the back of your hand

Here is another fabulous idiom of the day from Richard Ford.

There are numerous English idioms that contain the word ‘hand’ but in this video, Richard explains the meaning and usage of the common English expression, to know something like the back of your hand

Know something like the back of your hand – Video

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Video Transcript

Hello. To know something like the back of your hand means that you know that person or that thing very, very well. For example, you could say, “I know Hong Kong like the back of my hand.” That would mean, I know Hong Kong very, very well and I won’t get lost. You can use it for people, too. “I know you like the back of my hand”. For example, if your friend is looking unhappy and he says he isn’t, you can say, “Yes you are, I know you like the back of my hand!” So, do you know anyone like the back of your hand? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

10 More Idioms With The Word ‘Hand’

There are many English expressions with the word ‘hand’ in them. Here are just 10 more examples. For a more comprehensive list, checks the links below.

1. Bite the hand that feeds you

– to harm someone who is good to you or does things to help you

Seeing as they are paying for you to go to university, Susan, I think you should think again about not inviting them to your wedding. I know you can’t stand your father or his new wife but why bite the hands that feeds you?

2. Change hands

– to be sold, taken over or given by someone else

We go to a different pub ever since the Globe changed hands.

3. Caught with one’s hand in the till/cookie jar

– to be caught doing something wrong or illegal or to be caught stealing something (often money)

No, she hasn’t worked here since she was caught with her hands in the cookie jar. Apparently, she was taking home at least 15 kilos of meat each week.

4. Take a firm hand with someone/something

– to be strict or take strict control of someone or something

If you don’t take a firm hand with her now, she will lose all sense of discipline and run riot later in life.

5. Live from hand to mouth

– to live on very little money

My parents never enjoyed the privileged life we all take for granted. They grew up living hand to mouth.

6. Give/lend someone a hand

– to help someone with something

Today’s mandarin lesson was really difficult. Do you think you could give me a hand with my homework?

7. Get out of hand

– to become difficult or impossible to control

I think we will have to get rid of that new English teacher; she just can’t control the kids. Today was the third day in a row I noticed things getting out of hand in her English class.

8. Pay (someone) a back-handed compliment

– to insult someone by offering – what appears on the surface to be – a compliment

Sally:  Oh, Rita, you’re so lucky you don’t have to worry about men only liking you for your looks.
Rita:  Thanks a lot, Sally, you’ve always been great at back handed compliments, haven’t you?

9. An old hand at (doing something)

– someone who is experienced and very good at doing something

You should call Dan to fix those lights in the bedroom, he’s an old hand at anything to do with electrics.

10. Hand it to someone

– to admit, perhaps reluctantly, that someone deserves credit or praise for doing something well.

You’ve got to hand it to Jason, he might be the most annoying man in the office but the business he brings in keeps most of us in work.

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  1. mark says

    It’s absurd to suggest that you could identify your own hand so well, back or front. I think this expression comes from poker: you are dealt a ‘hand’; only you know what is on the ‘back of the hand’, that part which is out of sight of your opponents.

    • Derek says

      It’s absurd that you’re so dumb. It is an old working man’s expression. People worked with their hands all day long. And naturally they will be looking at what they’re doing with their hands. Everyone does, really. So you’re looking at your hands all day, anytime you do anything. Aka, they’re really familiar to you. You see them all the time… I don’t know where you came up with this poker idea. I always thought the back of the card was, well… The back of the card. So the back of your hand is the back of your cards. Which you wouldn’t know very well because they aren’t facing you. Which would make the expression pointless.

      It’s obvious you don’t know English like the back of your hand, sir.

    • Derek says

      With your logic, then the expression would mean that nobody else knows what you know, like a secret. That’s not the case. The expression means to be very familiar with something. It never implies clandestine knowledge, like only you knowing your poker cards…

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