have to hand it to someone

have (got) to hand it to (someone)

To give, or feel obliged to give, credit or recognition to someone for something they have done. I've got to hand it to you, the company has really turned a corner since you started managing the accounts. Still, you have to hand it to Jenny: she sure knows how to throw a party.
See also: hand, have

have to hand it to someone

SPOKEN
People use expressions such as I have to hand it to you or you've got to hand it to him in order to say that they admire what someone has done. I have to hand it to you, though. You came pretty close to escaping. Whatever you thought of his act, you had to hand it to him — he knew how to make money. Note: People often use these expressions when they did not think that someone would be successful or when they do not usually like or approve of that person.
See also: hand, have

have to hand it to someone

used to acknowledge the merit or achievement of someone.
2001 DVD Verdict You've got to hand it to the people at Universal; they took a very fair and decent approach to their upcoming Jurassic Park trilogy box set.
See also: hand, have