left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, the

Idioms & Phrases

left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, the

The actions are uncoordinated, especially when they are contrary, as in Purchasing has placed the order and accounting says we can't pay for more supplies this month; the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Today this expression is nearly always used as a criticism. But, it first appeared in the New Testament (Matthew 6:3) in an approving sense, when Jesus recommended not publicizing one's good deedsnot letting the left hand know what the right hand does. [Early 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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