As you probably know, Italians can’t avoid expressing themselves with meaningful gestures: that is why they use the expression “stare con le mani in mano“, which literally means “to be with your hands in your hands“, with a negative meaning similar to the English “to sit on your hands“.

This way to say is used when someone doesn’t do anything when he is supposed to and also when has poor manners when invited to a dinner or party and doesn’t bring anything as a little gift.

Let’s see some examples!

Italian English
Non stare con le mani in mano, aiutami! Don’t just sit on your hands, help me!
Anna è stata con le mani in mano mentre suo marito portava due enormi valige. Anna held her own hands while her husband carried two huge suitcases.
Marco è veramente maleducato, è venuto alla festa con le mani in mano. Marco is really rude, he came to the party holding his own hands.


Do you normally use a similar expression in your language?