Glad Hand

Also:

Give someone a glad hand
Give someone the glad hand

Sometimes hyphenated to glad-hand.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Glad Hand’

To glad hand someone or ‘give them a glad hand’ is to greet them in an extremely warm and friendly manner, quite often insincerely or superficially in order to gain favor or advantage. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.,3Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.


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Usage

Often used in regards to politics, the idiom does always refer to a literal hand-shake but can refer to any enthusiastic and friendly greeting, especially when it is not sincere. Although the expression is usually negative, it can be neutral or positive, as when referring to a greeting between two old friends.

glad hand idiom meaning

The idiom often refers to politicians who enthusiastically shake hands with everyone in a crowd while smiling broadly. 4Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

Glad hand has, on occasion, been used as a noun to refer to a person. Someone who goes around shaking hands and speaking to everyone they meet might be referred to as a glad hand.

Examples of Use

“The CEO gave the investigators the glad hand while refusing to cooperate with their inquiries.”

“Candidates often spend hours glad-handing the crowds in small towns. It is hard to believe this behavior fools anyone.”

Origin

Used since the late 1800s.

The fairly transparent allusion here is to sticking out one’s had and pretending to be glad to meet or greet someone.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
4. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.