upper hand

upper hand

noun
the dominating or controlling position; advantage: to have the upper hand in the fight.

Origin:
1475–85

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
upper hand
 
n
the upper hand the position of control; advantage (esp in the phrases haveorget the upper hand)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

upper hand

Also, whip hand. A dominating or controlling position, as in Once you let Jeff get the upper hand there'll be no stopping him, or When it comes to checkers, my son-in-law generally has the whip hand. The first term alludes to an ancient game in which each player in turn grasps a stick with one hand, beginning from the bottom, and the last who can put his hand at the top wins. Its figurative use dates from the late 1400s. The variant alludes to the driver who holds the whip in a horse-drawn vehicle; it was being used figuratively by the late 1600s.

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