hand-wav·​ing | \ ˈhan(d)-ˌwā-viŋ How to pronounce hand-waving (audio) \
variants: or less commonly handwaving or hand waving

Definition of hand-waving

1 : 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
2 : 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

First Known Use of hand-waving

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of hand-waving was in 1827

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Cite this Entry

“Hand-waving.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand-waving. Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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