Give somebody the glad hand

< Previous | Next >


Hi all,

I'd like to know whether the phrase 'with arms wide open' or 'greet sb somebody with arms wide open' could be replaced with 'giving sb somebody the glad hand''. In other words, does the latter phrase exist in English, as I'm not familiar with it?

E. g. do the below sentences make sense?:

"At Christmas, all the shops await/greet/welcome customers giving them the glad hand."


"At Christmas, all the shops give customers the glad hand."
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Redshade

    Used and understood in my part of the world to mean give someone a warm greeting.

    It may just be me but I always think the phrase has negative connotations as in the oleaginous and obsequious way a car salesman would lure me into his showroom.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    I also have the picture of politicians shaking hands with people in order to convince people they are sincere.
    Last edited:
    It may have originally meant nothing more than a warm greeting (i.e. with a cheerful handshake) but I agree that it carries undertones of insincerity. We talk of politicians on campaign trails "gladhanding" the electorate, implying that they are just pretending to be happy to see the voters.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In AE as I speak it, the term is entirely common. It would be very inappropriate to use it the way you suggest, Whyme, for the reasons Kevin gave: to glad hand means to greet people in a way that is smiling and cheerful, but there is a strong suggestion the that cheerfulness and the friendliness are artificial and without any real meaning.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I don't know how common it is in AE; I'm only 100 miles away from GWB, and I've never heard the phrase in my life.
    It sounds rather strange to me (and maybe a bit inappropriate!).
    If it came up in context I'm sure I would guess something close to the actual meaning, though.


    Senior Member
    US, English
    I am more familiar with it in the form of "glad handing" but it's quite a familiar term to me. I guess I would most expect to hear or use it to describe someone as "glad-handing" meaning he or she was working his way around the room, shaking hands and greeting people or to see it used as a noun. "Glad-handing" gets 24 million hits in Google - here's an example "Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's exercise in competitive glad-handing."
    < Previous | Next >