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Why do we say 'get the upper hand'?

Average: 2.8 (35 votes)

To Get The Upper Hand

If you get the upper hand, you take a dominant position.

There is still some question as to where this saying comes from, but it is generally acknowledged that the phrase originated from American children in playgrounds.

In order to determine who gets first choice of player for their teams when playing baseball, one team captain grabs the bat at the bottom, and then the other captain takes hold above the first’s hand.

They then progress hand over hand until they reach the top.

Whoever is left holding the bat gets the ‘upper hand’, and has first choice of teammate!

Example: "It's half-time and the Spanish football team seem to have the upper hand."