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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