Is your grandmother in hospital after suffering a fall? Do you want to know if the staff is taking care of her? The phrase “Are you in good hands?” is a great way to ask this question. Read on to learn more about the meaning and origin of this popular idiom.
The idiomatic phrase “in good hands” means under the care or guidance of capable, professional, caring, and trustworthy people.
The question, “Are you in good hands?” is one of the most common forms of this phrase, but you can also say, among other variations:
- I am in good hands.
- [Someone else] is in good hands.
- [I want someone else] to be in good hands.
Instead of “being in good hands,” you can also speak of “being in safe hands.” This variation emphasizes safety rather than goodness. It focuses on the skill and professionalism of those caring for the person.
Would you like to use the phrase “in good hands” in a sentence? These examples show how it’s done:
- “You can rest assured that your children are in good hands at Littlewoods Daycare because we meticulously vet our staff and have rigorous safety protocols.”
- “Are you sure you are in good hands with that doctor? He didn’t take you seriously when you told him about your headaches last time.”
- “The last few years have been bumpy, and the team has never sunk lower. We are confident that you will be in good hands with Coach Smith and that things will only get better from here.”
The meaning of the phrase “in good hands” is crystal clear.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “in good hands” as “managed or cared for with great attention.” According to Merriam-Webster, “in good hands” means “in the care of a person or people who are able to take care of someone or something well.”
The origins of the phrase are much less clear, however.
One of the earliest print references to the phrase dates to 1967, when aviation expert Frank Harvey said, “You’re in good hands with General Disosway.”
“In good hands” was likely used much earlier and may point to the fact that many professionals, including craftspeople, doctors, and nurses, rely on their hands to perform their jobs.
The phrase “in safe hands” is a variation of “in good hands” and has a much longer history.
“In safe hands” may have originated with the saying “a safe pair of hands,” a cricket-related phrase that describes a skilled and talented catcher who could contribute to countless successful matches.
James Pycroft’s 1854 book The Cricket Field: Or, The History and the Science of the Game of Cricket included this phrase.
Wherever the phrase “in good hands” came from, it remains popular. Nearly everyone will understand you if you choose to use this saying.
Phrases Similar to Are You in Good Hands
You can talk about being in safe, capable, or excellent hands as well as good hands.
You could also ask if the professional taking care of someone or guiding them is:
- The best person for the job.
- The right fit.
Phrases Opposite to Are You in Good Hands
If you are not in good hands, the person or team of people taking care of you may:
- Display “red flags,” indicators that something is wrong.
- Be “quacks,” a phrase used to describe terrible medical workers.
What Is the Correct Saying?
The correct saying is “in good hands.” The question, “Are you in good hands?” is a common variation. It asks if the person is receiving proper care.
Ways People May Say Are You in Good Hands Incorrectly
The phrase “in good hands” has nothing to do with a person’s hands and everything with the quality of care they provide.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Are You in Good Hands
You can ask someone if they are in good hands when you inquire about the quality of the care they receive. The question “Are you in good hands?” typically relates to the services professionals like doctors, lawyers, accountants, and nurses provide.