hand wringing

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Alternative forms[edit]


hand wringing (countable and uncountable, plural hand wringings)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.