hands are tied
someone's hands are tied
Fig. someone is not able to help or intervene. (See also .) I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. My hands are tied.
your hands are tied
you are not free to act Some of my students are failing, but my hands are tied by their parents, who can't admit their kids need extra help.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form something has tied someone's hands: The new rules have tied his hands.
somebody's hands are tied
if someone's hands are tied, they are not free to behave in the way that they would like I'd like to raise people's salaries but my hands are tied.See change hands, dirty hands, fall into hands, keep hands clean, play into hands, sit on hands, wash hands of, win hands down, wring hands