"old China hand"

Michael Vezie mlv at POBOX.COM
Sun May 12 11:16:53 UTC 2002

On Sat, 11 May 2002 07:55:38 -0400 Rick Kennerly wrote:
> When we visit family in the south Texas ranch country we still hear "hand" a
> lot, usually referring to a hired person, as in "a good hand to have
> around", "he's a good hand," or just "he's a hired hand."  But it is also
> used to imply skill or dexterity  as in "he's a good hand with horses,"
> "she's good at whatever she puts (or turns) her hand to" or  "it takes a
> fine hand".  John Ford westerns are replete with uses of hand in both these
> senses, usually uttered by John Wayne.

And to tie things together, I've also known (in a general context, not
necessarily agricultural) "old hand" to mean someone with years of
experience, as in "He's an old hand at fixing bicycles".

But I've never heard "old <anything> hand", except maybe "old hired
hand" (in the quoted agricultural context) which would simply be a
hired hand who's long in the tooth.

I'm from northern CA, if that matters.


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