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A Well-Known Saying

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hiflier | 18:16 Wed 24th Feb 2021 | Media & TV
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'To know something like the back of your hand.' I have looked in many reference books but have never found a plausible explanation of this phrase. Since I doubt that most people would actually be able to identify a picture of their own hand from a selection of the same I think we may have to think outside the box to get a handle on the origin of this saying. Any suggestions?

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That's not an explanation, just a few examples of its usage.
^^^^^
But, Thank you for looking Bookbinder...
Yes, BB has found more or less all I can locate on this one, often examples of usage are all that there is.

I expected it to have an older history than it appears really.
I do believe that you would recognise your own hand in an array of pictures.
So do I, tilly.
Write to Suzie Dent , on countdown .

She does a piece on the origins of phrases in each show
Or even 'susie'
I was given Susie Dent's book as a gift - will have a look.
There is no mention of this in Brewers Phrase & Fable either.
"To know something like the back of your hand." - one of the most obvious sayings, what is troubling you?
Question Author
Strangely I also had a look i Susie Dent's book. Nothing there. I even wrote to her about it but am still waiting for her response.
Tora,
He knows the phrase and its meaning, but he wants to know where it originated and its derivation.
Sunk: he says: " I have looked in many reference books but have never found a plausible explanation of this phrase." - well the explanation is obvious. I know what the back of my hand looks like very well.
With many sayings you will find a back history, such as seafaring or agriculture to give two examples.

This one doesn't seem to be very old or have a single source.
It must be as simple as it's the part of the body most seen in work, rest and play and is therefore easily recognisable.
Perhaps...
People write cheats, prompts, lines on the back of their hands. Maybe it is a self effacing comment meaning I am bluffing my knowledge a bit.

https://emptysqua.re/blog/grok-the-gil-fast-thread-safe-python/python-principle.jpg
I think hiflier is looking for the origin of the phrase, not what it means.
Question Author
Here is my take on this saying. The 'hand' is the hand that you are dealt with in a poker game. You look at it, carefully remembering the cards. Then you might place the cards face down on the table. Your 'hand' is now not visible to anyone. The 'back of your hand', face down on the table, is known only to you. That is the explanation and origin of the phrase.
Or it's just, you know, the back of your hand - that you're seeing all the time.

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