Definition of have (or gain) the upper hand in US English:

have (or gain) the upper hand


  • Have or gain advantage or control over someone or something.

    • ‘Just when Claudius thinks he controls Hamlet, it is really Hamlet who has the upper hand over Claudius.’
    • ‘Hussain also believes that the Australians usually gained the upper hand by bullying the opposition, and this is a pitfall the English team must avoid.’
    • ‘Although in some classes of the society, the boy and the girl are given a bigger say, still it is the family that usually has the upper hand.’
    • ‘Both teams strove to gain the upper hand but were very evenly matched.’
    • ‘She had the upper hand, and she was using it well to her advantage.’
    • ‘However, it would be wrong to think that the government has the upper hand in controlling public opinion.’
    an advantage, a commanding position, an edge, the edge, the whip hand, a lead, a head start, ascendancy, superiority, supremacy, sway, control, predominance, power, mastery, dominance, command
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