- 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.