grease someone's palm

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grease someone's palm

Also, oil someone's palm or hand . Give someone money in exchange for a favor; also, bribe someone. For example, If you want you luggage to make the plane, be sure to grease the porter's palm. This term uses grease in the sense of "enrich." [First half of 1500s]
See also: grease, palm

grease someone's palm

If someone greases an official's palm, they secretly give money to the official in order to get something that they want. She thought she would not be able to see the files if she did not grease the palms of officials. At the docks my grandfather would grease the palm of some sailor to show us round his ship. Note: You can describe this activity as palm-greasing. Palm-greasing for just about anything from entry to a favoured school to obtaining a bank loan is considered a fact of life here. Note: The idea behind this expression is that grease and oil help machines work smoothly. In the same way, bribing people will make it easier to get what you want.
See also: grease, palm

grease (or oil) someone's palm

bribe someone. informal
This phrase comes from the practice of applying grease to a machine to make it run smoothly. The same expression exists in French as graisser la patte . The form with palm is now predominant but hand appears in the earliest recorded versions of the idiom, dating from the 16th century.
1998 Economist Licences to run a shop [in Italy]…have caused many an official's palm to be greased.
See also: grease, palm