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

*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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Newport looked to regain the upper hand from the restart and could have moved back ahead after two minutes but wing Matthew Pewtner knocked on over the try line as he attempted to touch down one-handed.
At the halfway mark St John appeared to have the upper hand but it had been a closely fought affair thus far.
LDP seen as having upper hand in by-election campaigning: Kyodo poll
Wokingham winner Baltic King returns to the scene of his greatest triumph and has the upper hand on official ratings, but I'd take him on with Firenze, who has always promised to develop into a 100-odd rated mare and still has the time to prove herself at the highest level.
And maintain a good credit rating so that you can maintain the upper hand in determining your options when it comes time to refinancing into a traditional loan.
because fight now he feels al-Qaeda has the upper hand in the public relations battle" in the Muslim world.
Their small scale, low efficiency and lack of experience make them inferior competitors to international OEMs, which have the upper hand in product development, branding, cost control as well as sales and distribution management.
It was an excellent way for Rangers to end a win drought, with the home side having to dig deep to gain the upper hand.
They would enable the epidemic of immunization messages to take place "behind enemy lines," Shir says, and thereby gain the upper hand.
From then on, the British lieutenant FitzGibbon and the Yankee captain Chapin carry on a cat-and-mouse game of deception and guerilla tactics to try to get the upper hand.
Alexia Kelley, who served a short stint as religious outreach director for the party this year, said Democrats can gain the upper hand in the values debate because progressives "have the moral high ground.
6% stake in EADS and the country apparently fears that a power struggle could give a French manager the upper hand.
Henman lost the opening set, but looked to have regained the upper hand when he took the second to force a decider.
The tactic would seem to indicate that mills feel they have regained the upper hand in buy-sell negotiations, though their grip could be tenuous and short-lived.
All this activity has happened despite the wishes of Joyce's grandson, who regained control over the book's copyright a decade ago and has tried to stifle adaptations he considers "inappropriate" For the moment, James Joyce's fans have the upper hand over his heir.
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