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See also: hand-waving and hand waving



hand +‎ waving



handwaving (comparative more handwaving, superlative most handwaving)

  1. (not comparable) Waving the hands.
  2. Pertaining to empty gesturing, with little substance behind it; vague.
    • 2001, Jeffrey Kluger, ‘Obesity’, Time, 15 Jan 2001:
      For years much of this has been explained with hand-waving references to body types and metabolism -- broadly accurate, but cold comfort to the estimated 61% of Americans who are overweight or obese and want to have their weight controlled, not merely explained.



handwaving (countable and uncountable, plural handwavings)

  1. (chiefly figuratively) Frantic or conspicuous gesturing (during an argument etc.), especially as contrasted with a lack of underlying substance or meaning; empty gesturing.
    • 2000, Time, letter, 21 Aug 2000:
      Protesters who demand that this brilliantly humane enterprise be stopped should have their motives questioned. Their protest is nothing but the mindless hand waving of Luddites.
    • 2009, ‘Squid Business’, The Economist, 3 Nov 2009:
      McClatchy goes on to try and level a damning critique, which amounts to a lot of handwaving about things we already know.
    • 2011, Andrew Brown, The Guardian, 17 Jun 2011:
      So when we're discussing thought and conscious processes, talking about minds is precise, and even measurable (what else do public opinion pollsters do?) while talking about brains is just hand-waving.




  1. present participle of handwave