hands down, adv. and adj.
Frequency (in current use):
a. With little or no effort; with ease; esp. in to win hands down.Originally in Horse Racing, with reference to a jockey dropping the hands, and so relaxing his or her hold on the reins, when victory appears certain.
[1832 Bell's Life in London 17 June Independence..won with hands down.]
1853 Bell's Life 28 Aug. 4/3 She won with the most perfect ease imaginable, little Sherwood going past the post ‘hands down’.
1854 Sporting Rev. Oct. 374 We felt pretty sure that Habena would come in ‘hands down’.
1866 Brit. Almanac 66 It is a contest between Red-tape and the House of Commons, in which Red-tape will win, hands down.
1934 ‘E. M. Delafield’Provinc. Lady in Amer. 146 Mental comparison of American and English railway stations follows, and am obliged to admit that America wins hands down.
1968 L. BlanchJourney into Mind's Eye viii. 117 Tamerlaine's daughter-in-law was in the habit of throwing pearls to her goldfish, beating Cleopatra hands down for she..only squandered one pearl, on one man.
1982 Financial Times (Nexis) 26 May 17 The Argentines have..been winning the information war hands down.
2005 R. BramblettEurope for Dummies (ed. 3) xix. 410 The Catacombe di San Domitilla is.., hands-down, the winner for most enjoyable catacomb experience.
b. Used as a sentence adverb, expressing emphatic assertion of a superlative: without doubt; by a long way.
1936 Oakland (Calif.) Tribune 18 Oct. t5/1 (advt.) Hands down the best buy in Piedmont.
1959 Billboard 1 June 52/1 Freedomland will occupy 212 acres, making it, hands down, the world's largest theme installation.
1986 InfoWorld 8 Sept. 47/1 This is hands down the worst documentation we've ever seen.
2010 M. WarshawHist. of Surfing vi. 342/1 Not only was she the reigning world champion, she was also hands down the most resilient pro of the era.
2. Submissively; without protest.
1896 Sheffield & Rotherham Independent 7 Apr. 3/3 He must ‘surrender, hands down, to the vicar’.
1913 Mrs. H. WardMating of Lydiaii. xii, That I should surrender, hands down, to a lot of trumpery complaints and grievances.
2000 C. LucaTrading in Global Currency Markets (ed. 2) vi. 100 FX markets are too big and sophisticated to give up the fight hands down.
Of a victory, success, etc.: unquestionable, undoubted; certain, absolute, easy.
1900 Graphic (London) 29 Sept. 462/1 They are..wholly insufficient to justify any Unionist voter in assuming the certainty of a ‘hands down’ victory.
1939 Hartford Courant 11 Sept. 20 It was easy to see that it was a ‘hands down’ win.
1993 Milwaukee Jrnl. 21 Nov. b5 It's been a hands-down success in terms of making money.
2005 G. GriffithWill's Choice (2006) iv. 111 Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 classic science-fiction thriller Total Recall... was a hands-down favorite.