hand-wav·​ing ˈhan(d)-ˌwā-viŋ How to pronounce hand-waving (audio)
variants or less commonly handwaving or hand waving
: movement with the hand or hands made as a signal to another
Over the last decade, the frenzied screaming and hand-waving on exchange trading floors has started to go the way of the horse and buggy.Gail Marks Jarvis
The woman and I cobbled together a lingua franca through hand-waving and the bits of Mandarin and Cantonese we both could understand.Madelyne Xiao
: insubstantial and unsupported or ineffective statements, arguments, actions, etc., especially when intended to distract or mislead
In many respects, his essay is the quintessence of the form, a frustrating exercise in bland soul-searching, misdirection, and hand-waving.Laura Miller
If this explanation seems a bit like hand waving, it is. Many of the details have not been worked out.Don Lincoln
… we never, ever take concrete steps to solve our problems, no matter how much handwaving we do.Matthew Dessem
often used before another noun
a hand-waving theory/explanation/argument

Word History

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hand-waving was in 1827

Dictionary Entries Near hand-waving

Cite this Entry

“Hand-waving.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand-waving. Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

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