hand down



  • (file)


hand down (third-person singular simple present hands down, present participle handing down, simple past and past participle handed down)

  1. To transmit in succession, as from father to son, or from predecessor to successor.
    Fables are handed down from age to age.
    • 1920, T. S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”, in The Sacred Wood:
      Yet if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, "tradition" should positively be discouraged.
  2. (law) To deliver (the decision of a court, etc.)
    The jury handed down a verdict of guilty.
    • 2020 March 11, Jan Ransom, “Harvey Weinstein’s Stunning Downfall: 23 Years in Prison”, in New York Times[1]:
      Justice James A. Burke, who presided over the trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, could have sentenced Mr. Weinstein to as little as five years, but he heeded the arguments of prosecutors who urged him to hand down a long sentence.
  3. (law) To forward to the proper officer (the decision of a higher court).
    The Clerk of the Court of Appeals handed down its decision.
  4. (idiomatic) To donate (as second hand.)
    When my older brother grows out of his clothes, he hands them down to me.

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