One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1With each hand brought successively over the other, as in climbing up or down a rope, or rapidly hauling at one.
2Swimming. With each arm alternately brought out of the water from behind and with a circular sweep returned to the water in front.
3Chiefly Nautical. With rapid and continuous advances, especially in "to come up hand over hand". Compare "hand over fist". Now rare.
4Figurative (especially with reference to the making of money). Rapidly and continuously; methodically, easily.
1Swimming. Designating a method of swimming performed hand over hand. Now chiefly historical.
2Generally. Of an action or act: performed with each hand brought successively over the other.
Late 16th century (in an earlier sense). From hand + over + hand.
hand over hand/ˌhand əʊvə ˈhand/
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