“It’s the best, hands down.”

“He won hands down.”

“This is hands down the most delicious mac and cheese recipe out there.”

I daresay we all know the phrase…but do you know where it comes from? I hadn’t. But it turns out hands down, which dates from 1855, is actually a term coined in horse racing.

The first recorded use was in The Sportsman in 1840, describing a jockey who was so far ahead of his competitors that he crossed the finish line “with his hands down,” meaning that he let up on the reins and let the horse just cruise to a win, he had so much lead on the others.

That was the report that sparked the phrase. In a mere decade-and-a-half, it became part of everyday speech, applied to other easy wins or times when something was so ahead of the competition that they didn’t even have to try to beat them.

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