Have you ever witnessed a situation where someone who doesn’t seem to be in a very good mood says something along the lines of “You bout to catch these hands”?
And have you wondered what on Earth they’re talking about?
What does “catch these hands” mean?
When someone says “catch these hands”, they are referring to a fight that they’re about to start. Most of the time, their hands will be caught by the other guy’s face.
In this article, I want to take a look at where it comes from, what tone it gives off, and how it tells us a lot about the English language.
Where you may have heard the term “catch these hands”
Let’s start off by talking about where you might have heard it. In this day and age, you may have heard it through a meme of some sort, a funny picture, or video designed to be funny. With memes, ideas can be spread quickly, and this includes phrases as well as jokes.
Another place where it’s common is fighting and wrestling. When someone says “You bout to catch these hands”, that usually implies a fight is about to go down, and somebody will get hurt.
These days, it’s usually said with humorous intention, but not always.
Strowman is a wrestler who works for WWE, he has a big beard and likes to present himself as the pinnacle of the alpha male. As with most wrestlers, they have a catchphrase they like to use when they enter the ring.
Strowman’s was “You bout to catch these hands”. This has caused some people to believe he came up with the phrase. Actually, even the man himself admits that he did not come up with it. The saying was common during his wrestling career.
However, even if he didn’t invent it, you could argue he popularised it. And there is no denying it’s an incredible wrestler phrase.
“Throw hands” vs. “catch these hands”
The term “throw hands” predates even “catch these hands”, as it’s been around since the late 60s. Back then, it was a widespread phrase that everybody knew, it was even used in Huey Newson’s autobiography in 1973.
But long before the 60s, hands were used to represent violence. It had become a common trope in fiction for hands to be used as a symbol of war and aggression for a while.
When one person throws hands, the other person will catch hands. Interesting how an old phrase and a new phrase blend so well together.
“Catch” as a metaphor
When you “catch hands”, the hands are removed from one person and thrown to another like a ball. And you don’t catch them in your hands like you would a ball.
This is because “catch these hands” is an example of metaphorical language. When we say something but mean something else. It’s kind of like a simile, but we’re not using any “like” or “as”.
Other common metaphors include “raining cats and dogs” to mean heavy rain, and “for the birds” to mean useless.
Many fiction writers use metaphors a lot in their work.
Alternatives to using “catch these hands”
As with every phrase ever, there is more than one way of saying it. Let’s take a look at some alternatives to “catch these hands”.
In cartoons, when the bad guys are about to get beaten up, they might say “time to take out the trash”, implying the bad guy is trash.
Another phrase they might often say is “open a can of whoopass”.
If you are just giving a punch, you could even say “Knuckle Sandwich”. Comedic use of a metaphor comparing a delicious sandwich to being punched.
You also have the likes of “It’s show time” and “cruising for a bruising”.
Why do we like these phrases?
There are plenty of cool phrases in English, but I want to know why we all (including myself) like to use them so much.
Firstly, they bring in a new level of excitement. Rather than saying something straight up, implying it (even obviously) gives us that sense of the unknown. It’s a great way to give your language a new life.
Another reason is that when you leave school, all of the things you learned tend to be forgotten. But by using cool phrases in your day to day speech, you can keep alive the knowledge that your English teacher gave you.
When you hear the phrase “catch these hands”, you can probably guess that a fight is about to go down. While this can be a real fight where people could get hurt, a lot of the time, it’s referring to a staged fight such as a wrestling match.
Even though a fight is about to go down, it’s going to be one that everyone involved has agreed to take part in, and everyone is going to talk away with a smile. It will be violent but also entertaining.
Other phrases about hands
There are other phrases we have that make use out of hands. Interestingly, none of the ones below is talking about violence.
- When something gets out of hand, it’s gone too far and needs to be stopped.
- A first-hand experience is one that you’ve had yourself
- When your hands are full, you have no time for anything else.
- And if you ask for a hand, you’re asking for help.
These were just the ones that I could think of, I’m sure there are plenty of phrases about hands out there, even some which are local to specific regions.
“Catch these hands” is what you might hear when a fight is about to start. It was popularised by the Wrestler Strowman, but even he admits he didn’t come up with the phrase. It relates to an even older phrase “throw hands” that goes back to the 1960s.
“Catch these hands” is an excellent example of metaphorical language, which we like to use because it allows us to use cool phrases that we wouldn’t usually.
It’s the type of fighting phrase that’s more commonly said in wrestling matches than street fights.
Hands have been used as a symbol of many things, but one of the oldest is violence.