Press the flesh

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Press the flesh is an idiom that is often used in politics. We will look at the meaning of the idiom press the flesh and some examples of its use in a few sentences.

To press the flesh means to shake hands, to mingle in a crowd of people in order to make personal, physical contact. Politicians often press the flesh in order to make personal contact with voters and show that they are equals of the people. Sometimes celebrities or high-ranking corporate officials will press the flesh in order to demonstrate their appreciation of the ordinary people. Shaking hands dates back to the Ancient Greeks, probably starting as a way to assure the other person that you are weaponless. Eventually, handshakes came to symbolize agreement, friendship and trust. It is no wonder that politicians use the subtle psychological symbol of pressing the flesh when courting votes. Related phrases are presses the flesh, pressed the flesh, pressing the flesh. Note that press the flesh is not hyphenated, unless it is used as an adjective before a noun.


Hollywood A-lister Robert De Niro will be hanging out in the UAE next week, but he’s not coming to film a movie, he’ll be here to press the flesh at a business conference. (The National)

Plied with enough free fizz to float the QE2, these annual knees-up not only give journalists like me the chance to press the flesh with politicians but also meet the party faithful.  (The Daily Express)

Last week, though, saw a parade of male would-be candidates for next year’s presidential election pressing the flesh in a less traditional setting: amid the heat tongs, hair extensions and tubs of cream peroxide at the Paris hairdressing fair. (The Economist)

But in recent years a new element has emerged — press-the-flesh politics. (The Ashboro Courier-Tribune)