Show of hands

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The term a show of hands may be older than you think. We will examine the definition of the expression a show of hands, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The phrase a show of hands refers to a system in which a group of people quickly votes for or against something, or a group of people participates in a quick poll. A show of hands is informal, and is sometimes used to make a quick decision without actually counting votes. The term a show of hands is often used by lecturers or performers in order to engage the audience. Show of hands is a noun, and it dates back to the late 1700s when it was used primarily as a method of local voting.


The defectors going against the parties on whose tickets they were elected will be easily identifiable during the show of hands voting as they have to stand up and be counted on the floor in the concerned legislatures in full public view. (The International News)

Once everyone’s name was checked on a list and their hands stamped, attendees had to use paper ballots because the crowd was too big to count a show of hands. (The Albany Times Union)

The interim master chief petty officer of the Navy asked for a show of hands — how many chiefs recall “refresher training,” when crews would got to sea to practice core sailor skills such as damage control and firefighting until those often complex concepts became habit? (The Navy Times)

Twice during the meeting, speakers asked for a show of hands in favor of metal detectors, and support was nearly unanimous (The Alvin Sun and Advertiser)