What does the idiom "make money hand over fist" mean?

Are you using the idiom make money hand over fist but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the make money hand over fist idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "make money hand over fist"


The idiom “make money hand over fist” means to make money in abundance quickly and easily. This phrase implies that the process of making money is effortless and happens quickly; it suggests that the individual is able to make a significant amount of money with minimal effort.


The origin of the phrase “make money hand over fist” is uncertain, but the phrase likely arose in the late 1800s and gained popularity in the United States during the early 1900s. The earliest known use of the term was in an 1858 newspaper article in the San Francisco Times, which referred to an individual “making money hand over fist.”


The phrase “make money hand over fist” is typically used to express admiration for someone’s financial success, especially when it appears that their process of making money is effortless or requires minimal effort. It can also be used to express frustration or envy, especially when directed toward someone who is perceived to be unjustly or undeservedly wealthy.

Example Sentences

  • My friend is making money hand over fist with her cupcake shop.
  • It seems like he’s making money hand over fist, but I know that he works hard to get it.
  • I wish I could make money hand over fist like those top executives.

The meanings of the words in the "make money hand over fist" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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