What Does Hand Over Fist Mean?

Hand Over Fist Meaning

Definition: Continuously and quickly.

People typically use this expression when talking about making lots of money. Example: making money hand over fist.

Origin of Hand Over Fist

This expression originated in the 1700s and was originally coined as hand over hand. It finds its origin in the nautical world, and this is how sailors climbed rope: hand over hand.

In 19th-century America, it changed to hand over fist and the meaning eventually broadened to included anything or anyone making steady, continual progress.

Examples of Hand Over Fist

money hand over fistIn this example, a man uses the expression while talking to his friend about his new business enterprise.

Rodrigo: Are you free tonight? I’d like to take you out to a fancy restaurant!

Alisha: Are you sure? I know that you are trying to save money.

Rodrigo: Actually, I don’t have to worry about money anymore. I wanted to tell you at dinner, but I guess I’ll just tell you know. I finally opened that new business I’ve wanted to start.

Alisha: That’s great! How’s it going so far?

Rodrigo: It’s even more successful than I thought it would be! I’m making money hand over fist.

Alisha: That’s great! Then, sure, you can take me out to eat wherever you want.

Rodrigo: Let’s go to that really expensive new restaurant. I want to enjoy my new wealth!

hand over fist idiomIn the example below, two friends are discussing some barriers to living in the city one of them loves.

Luis: I still really want to move to San Francisco, but I don’t think I can afford it.

Stephanie: Yeah. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the country. You’d have to be pretty rich to afford living there.

Luis: I know. Maybe one day I’ll have a really good job, and I’ll be making money hand over fist, and I’ll be able to move there.

Stephanie: Hopefully!

More Examples

This excerpt is about football.

  • With the playoff now a reality, conferences making money hand over fist and the game generally in better health than ever, complaining has become this sport’s new cottage industry. And making people care about the issues that came up Tuesday in Destin is the greatest con ever pulled on college football fans. –USA Today

This excerpt is from an article about the economy.

  • But that’s not why investors are buying shares hand over fist right now. The real reason is that they think this stock will make them rich, too. –USA Today


The saying hand over fist means rapidly and without stopping. It usually refers to earning large amounts of money.