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- The repeated clasping or squeezing of the hands as a symptom of distress.
- 1862, Anna Maria Hall, chapter XIII, in Can wrong be right?:
- Whisperings filled the corridors with unearthly sounds — the hand-wringing and breast-beating of the elder sisters — the sighs and sobs of the younger.
- A feigned exhibition of distress, usually with implied inaction or vacillating in the face of a dilemma or crisis.
- 2001, Thomas W. Smith, Revaluing Ethics: Aristotle's Dialectical Pedagogy, page 1:
- On the one hand, there is the danger of ineffectual and often counterproductive conservative handwringing over the crisis.
- 2003, Daniel K. Akaka, Fema's Role in Managing Bioterrorist Attacks and The Impact of Public Health Concerns on Bioterrorism Preparedness, page 69:
- As noted, the confusion and hand wringing about who should do what mostly flows from a failure to clearly think through what an epidemic is and what will be demanded in response.