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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References in periodicals archive ?
BEIRUT: Seven MPs from the March 14 Forces handed a letter to President Michel Sleiman urging him to stand against all attempts to naturalize Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
On Thursday night, Israeli Forces handed over new demolition orders to five other houses which belong to residents of Jabal al-Baba.
QUETTA -- Iranian Security forces handed over 70 Pakistani nationals to Levies force on Pak-Iran borders in Taftan area of Chaghi district.
Earlier, US-Afghan forces handed over Ali Haider Gilani to Pakistani officials in Kabul.
Following completion of legal measures, the gendarmerie forces handed the illegal immigrants over to the security directorate in order to deport them.
"The forces handed over the base in southern Nassiriya to the Iraqi government on August 9, but the announcement was postponed due to security reasons," Major Alan Brown told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Summary: Baghdad, July 14, 2010, SPA -- US forces handed over Iraq&'s former deputy premier Tareq Aziz and 54 other members of Saddam Hussein&'s inner circle to the Iraqi authorities, regional news network al-Arabiya reported Wednesday, according to dpa.
Head of al-Jalama village council, Mohammed Abu Farha, told WAFA Israeli forces handed Mahmoud Hamdan and Ahmad, Naser, and Mohammed Abu Farha notices ordering them to stop the construction work on their three houses and an industrial facility in al-Jalama town, citing unpermitted construction as a pretext.
" It is noteworthy that Syria's democratic forces handed over in the form of batches of a group of detainees suspected of belonging to Daesh terrorist organization to the Iraqi authorities earlier this year.
PNN/Bethlehem/ Israeli forces handed over the body of Raed Al-Salhi from Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem.
QUETTA -- Iranian security forces handed over a body of Pakistani to Levies force on Pak-Iran border in Taftan area of Chaghi district.
Security situation deteriorated in Lashkargah since foreign forces handed over security command of the town to Afghan forces on July 20.
forces handed over security responsibility in the GZ to Iraqi forces.
The blast on Thursday happened hours after British forces handed the job of securing Maysan to Iraqi forces.
"This person objected to the women's way in order to charge them with the claim of knowledge of reading luck and fortune-telling, and writing mascots." "The security forces handed over that person to the Anti-crime department in Erbil to complete the legal proceedings against him," it said./ End