Definition of hand-waving in US English:



  • The use of gestures and insubstantial language meant to impress or convince.

    ‘their patriotic hand-waving lacked sincerity’
    as modifier ‘her path of logic and hand-waving explanations’
    • ‘I doubt that you or he will be happy with it, but hand-waving is not my specialty.’
    • ‘So when do we get a chance to put all this verbal hand-waving to real use?’
    • ‘It appears that the quackery session, an exhibit and endorsement of hand-waving, pseudoscience, and superstition, will take place under the auspices of Massachusetts General Hospital as officially scheduled.’
    • ‘They indulge in a certain amount of hand-waving to re-interpret this as ‘during the last 200,000 years’.’
    • ‘Like ‘love’ and ‘God,’ human dignity is usually verbal hand-waving deployed when people don't really know what they are trying to protect or assert.’
    • ‘We know that a lot of the people who are thinking about business blogging are looking to get more than a powerpoint deck and a few hours of hand-waving.’
    • ‘I gave them a wink, which they couldn't have misunderstood, for when the next heart-stopping rock-song began they'd gathered around me on the dance-floor to start their bottom-shaking and hand-waving.’
    • ‘It wasn't even hand-waving - at most one hand waving, or maybe just one appropriate finger.’
    • ‘Second, even if it is acknowledged, the ‘response’ is faculty lounge speculation and hand-waving about how this might all be rationalized.’
    • ‘Aside from a few jingoistic platitudes, a bit of narrative hand-waving to set up the slaughter, there's little or no justification for anything.’
    • ‘I remained passive and expressionless during the hand-waving procedure that ensued.’
    • ‘Mr. Geller answers, with much hand-waving, in a hoarse almost-whisper bordering on over-acting.’
    • ‘This is the rhetoric of hand-waving: it's not possible now, but surely sometime in the future there will be ‘technological breakthroughs’ to make it possible.’
    • ‘Your vagaries and hand-waving are going to do us more harm than good; it's cruel to instil in the crew only baseless hopes and unfulfilled promises.’
    • ‘People just will not do anything that they don't already want to do, when subjected to the oscillating watch or the hand-waving so dear to the practitioners of this flummery.’
    • ‘Scientists tend to be sticklers for substance over hand-waving.’
    • ‘When all hand-waving and gobbledygook fails, they turn into animals, grunting and snarling at each other - until that, too, fails, and they return to words, or their gibberish version of them.’
    • ‘The question was not to be answered by mere hand-waving.’
    • ‘To this notorious ‘proof,’ the near-universal reaction of the beginning student of epistemology is bewilderment: how could Moore possibly have thought that a skeptic's profound doubts can be countered by a bit of hand-waving?’
    • ‘They rapidly upped that figure to $35 million after being accused of stinginess, hand-waving all the way about how we were the most generous nation in the world.’