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Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma

With one's hands but without tools, weapons, or other implements. For example, Jean assembled the new stove with her bare hands. This phrase, first recorded in 1604, extends the literal meaning, “with uncovered (that is, without gloves) and hence unprotected hands,” to “unaided by implements.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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