hand down

Idioms & Phrases

hand down

  1. Bequeath to one's heirs, as in The silver and jewels have been handed down from generation to generation in that family. [Late 1600s]

  2. Make and pronounce an official decision, especially the verdict of a court. For example, The judge wasted no time in handing down a sentence of contempt of court. [First half of 1900s] Also see hand on; hand over.

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