force (one's) hand

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force (one's) hand

To push one to do something that one is not inclined to do otherwise. (The phrase alludes to a hand of playing cards.) Dave still hasn't decided where he wants to go to dinner, so I'm going to force his hand—I need to make reservations as soon as possible! I was hoping to play golf today, but the storm forced my hand, so I stayed home instead. The president is trying to force Congress's hand by threatening a veto.
See also: force, hand
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

force someone's hand

to force a person to reveal plans, strategies, or secrets. (Alludes to a handful of cards in card playing.) We didn't know what she was doing until Tom forced her hand. We changed our game plan after we forced the other team's hand in the first period.
See also: force, hand
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

force someone's hand

Compel someone to act or speak prematurely or against his or her will. For example, He didn't want to decide just then, but the board forced his hand. This expression probably alludes to the hand (the cards) held in a game such as whist or poker, in which a player is compelled to play some card from his hand or to reveal his hand. [Mid-1800s]
See also: force, hand
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

force someone's hand

COMMON If someone forces your hand, they make you do something that you are not ready to do or do not want to do. He hadn't wanted to talk publicly about the matter but said the press had forced his hand. If he hadn't made the announcement, the newspapers were going to do so anyway. The Government is very reluctant to make such a move. But the exchange markets may force its hand. Note: In card games, to force an opponent's hand means to force them to play a card earlier than they want to.
See also: force, hand
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

force someone's hand

make someone act prematurely or do something they dislike.
See also: force, hand
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

force somebody’s ˈhand

force somebody to do something differently or sooner than planned: By applying pressure to get the law changed, the opposition party wants to force the government’s hand.
See also: force, hand
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

force (someone's) hand

To force to act or speak prematurely or unwillingly.
See also: force, hand
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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