upper hand

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the upper hand

A position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). Typically used after the verbs "have," "gain," or "get." The home team got the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury. We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is gaining the upper hand. The two companies were neck and neck for years, but Mayers International seems to have the upper hand in the markets lately.
See also: hand, upper
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*upper hand (on someone)

Fig. a position superior to someone; the advantage of someone. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) John is always trying to get the upper hand on someone. He never ends up having the upper hand, though.
See also: hand, upper
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

upper hand

Also, whip hand. A dominating or controlling position, as in Once you let Jeff get the upper hand there'll be no stopping him, or When it comes to checkers, my son-in-law generally has the whip hand. The first term alludes to an ancient game in which each player in turn grasps a stick with one hand, beginning from the bottom, and the last who can put his hand at the top wins. Its figurative use dates from the late 1400s. The variant alludes to the driver who holds the whip in a horse-drawn vehicle; it was being used figuratively by the late 1600s.
See also: hand, upper
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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
They are great for their teams so it gives us the upper hand."
"Iran [now has the] upper hand in the region," he said, according to the state news agency.
"Ratyan and al-Zahra are strategically situated at the Northern and Eastern sides of the terrorist-controlled 'Anadan Plains," the sources said, adding, "The Syrian government forces are resolved to use their strategic upper hand against the terrorist groups and put an end to the presence of militants in Northwest Aleppo."
Tuck their upper hand under the side of their head so that their head is on the back of the hand.
In New York on Tuesday, dollar-selling took the upper hand with investors locking in gains amid a largely wait-and-see mood ahead of a U.S.
The home side appeared to have the upper hand from the kick off and stand-off Lewis Robling opened the scoring with a fifth minute penalty.
Rick Perry to rebound and why the governor may have the upper hand this time around.
NICE TO SEE YOU Left, Dorothy Ives meets a Stormtrooper making an intergalactic visit to HMV FREEZE Luke Wiper, six, has the upper hand over the visitor from a galaxy far far away
Both exchanged significant blows towards the end of the first round and the Welshman appeared to be gaining the upper hand.
He said in pre-1975-90 civil war years, when the Maronites had the upper hand in government, Christian and rich Palestinians were given Lebanese citizenship.
Although Inter took the upper hand in their semifinal, Mourinho remains in awe of the side he is plotting to take the title away from.
Israel has taken the upper hand in the war against road deaths.]]>
* Rear flange of upper hand guard (rail) is broken/cracked or locator pins are missing
LDP seen as having upper hand in by-election campaigning: Kyodo poll
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