Coined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. Influenced by and echoing earlier use as "the hand of God". See Etymology citations
- (economics) A metaphor for the principle that in a free market, an individual pursuing his own self-interest also tends to promote the good of his community as a whole.
Though Adam Smith's original reference discusses only domestic versus foreign trade, the concept is nearly always generalized economically beyond this narrow scope.
- For more examples of usage of this term, see the citations page.