Get the upper hand


      • Gain control or advantage over a situation or person
        Refers to having a dominant position or being in a position of power and control

      • Gain physical advantage over an opponent
        Used in sports or physical contests to describe achieving a position or move that gives an advantage over the opponent

    Examples of Get the upper hand

    • In the heated debate, Sarah managed to get the upper hand by presenting convincing evidence thatpoked holes in her opponent's arguments.

      To "get the upper hand" in a debate is to gain an advantage over your opponent by presenting strong arguments or evidence. It's like being in a physical fight and landing the first punch, giving you the advantage over your opponent. In the given example, Sarah was able to present evidence that weakened her opponent's arguments, putting her in a position of advantage in the debate.

    • After weeks of hard work and perseverance, Emily finally got the upper hand in her department, earning the respect and admiration of her colleagues.

      This example uses the idiom in a professional context. To "get the upper hand" in a workplace setting could mean gaining the trust and respect of your colleagues, which could lead to promotions, better projects, or other professional advantages. Emily's hard work and perseverance paid off as she earned the admiration of her fellow coworkers, positioning herself for future career success.

    • During the basketball game, Michael's team suddenly got the upper hand as he made a game-changing shot from beyond the arc, putting them ahead for good.

      "Getting the upper hand" in a basketball game could mean taking the lead and maintaining that lead throughout the rest of the game. Michael's team benefited from his game-changing shot, which put them in a position of advantage over their opponents.

    • Despite facing numerous obstacles and setbacks, Olivia refused to give up and eventually got the upper hand, completing the project ahead of schedule and within budget.

      This example showcases the idiom's positive connotations of persistence and determination. To "get the upper hand" in the face of adversity could mean overcoming obstacles and succeeding against all odds. Olivia demonstrated the power of perseverance and hard work as she completed the project ahead of schedule and within budget, despite facing numerous unexpected difficulties.

    • In their high-stakes negotiation, Sarah skillfully presented her company's proposals, leaving the other party struggling to keep up. She had finally managed to get the upper hand in the negotiation.

      To "get the upper hand" means to gain an advantage or take the lead in a situation, especially in a competition or dispute. In this example, Sarah's excellent presentation skills and persuasive proposals gave her an advantage over the other party in the negotiation.

    • After months of training, Ryan's rugby team finally managed to get the upper hand in their match against their arch-rivals. They scored two tries in the final ten minutes, securing a crucial victory.

      Here, "getting the upper hand" refers to gaining the advantage in a sporting contest. Ryan's team, who had been playing catch-up for most of the match, found their rhythm in the final stages and scored two crucial tries to win the game.

    • Throughout the courtroom drama, the prosecution had been struggling to make their case, leaving the defense with the upper hand. The judge's decision to dismiss a key witness ultimately sealed the defense's victory.

      "Getting the upper hand" in this context refers to gaining the advantage in a legal or courtroom setting. In this case, the defense team, who had been presenting a convincing case, maintained their advantage throughout the trial thanks to a favorable decision by the judge.

    • When it comes to their business ventures, Sarah and Nathan are always competing to get the upper hand. Their latest project, a joint partnership, has been a closely fought battle, with neither side willing to give an inch.

      "Getting the upper hand" in this example refers to gaining an advantage in a professional or business context. Sarah and Nathan, who are both ambitious and competitive, are constantly trying to gain the upper hand in their joint project, as each success could give them a strategic advantage in future business endeavors.


    The idiom "get the upper hand" is used to describe gaining control or advantage over a situation or person. It can also refer to gaining a physical advantage over an opponent. In both cases, the intention is to be in a dominant position or have the upper hand.

    Origin of "Get the upper hand"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the sport of fencing, where the upper hand refers to the hand that is higher on the sword grip. This position gives a fencer more control and strength in their movements, ultimately leading to an advantage over their opponent. Over time, the term was adopted into everyday language to describe gaining the upper hand in any situation.

    Another possible origin of this idiom comes from the game of cards, specifically poker. In poker, the player with the highest ranking cards has the upper hand, or advantage, over the other players. This concept of having the upper hand has been applied to various situations in life, not just in sports or games.

    Regardless of its specific origin, the idiom "get the upper hand" has become a common phrase used to describe gaining control or advantage over someone or something. Its use is often associated with competition or conflict, emphasizing the desire to be in a dominant position.