on one's hands

Idioms & Phrases

on one's hands

  1. In one's possession or care, often as a responsibility, as in As long as she had three children on her hands she couldn't get very much accomplished, or They had two houses on their hands because they hadn't sold the first before having to move. This term was first recorded in 1528. For the antonym, see .

  2. time on one's hands. Time in which one has nothing necessary to do, free time, as in She has a lot of time on her hands now that the kids have moved out. Also see in one's hands.

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