from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Waving the hands.
  • adj. Pertaining to empty gesturing, with little substance behind it; vague.
  • n. Frantic or conspicuous gesturing (during an argument etc.), especially as contrasted with a lack of underlying substance or meaning; empty gesturing.
  • v. Third-person singular simple present indicative form of handwave.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • It really undermines confidence in science if people are always being subjected to what we call handwaving arguments that all complexity had to have had an incremental origin.


  • A shitload of historical accounts of what was happening in Greenland several thousand miles to the south and a lot of airy handwaving is irrelevant.

    Matthew Yglesias » Wednesday Arctic Ice Blogging

  • I mean, there are works which use real science rather than handwaving, works in which the handwaving is indistinguishable from hokum, works which treat hokum as if it were real science, and works which don't actually "rationalise" at all.

    The Great Debate

  • Until then it is hand waving and I suspect behind the handwaving is the desire for another bureaucracy.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Do Markets Give Us Too Many Choices?

  • This is called handwaving, and it's a trick that writers use to bullshit the reader.

    Finding the fairy door.

  • So if you want flying dragons, you have to do some kind of handwaving: you get pseudo-scientific and talk about them having lightweight bones and helium sacs or whatever inside their bodes; or you defer the question by saying they cast natural levitation spells or something; or you basically say "gravity works except in the case of dragons because I WANT FLYING DRAGONS, DAMMIT."

    mrissa: Addition, subtraction, numini...tion?

  • And just because I have a different opinion and point of view doesn't mean that I'm "handwaving" anything.

    Supernatural: Point of No Return - Pink

  • "And just because I have a different opinion and point of view doesn't mean that I'm "handwaving" anything.

    Supernatural: Point of No Return - Pink

  • I don’t think they’d engage in the kind of handwaving in which some of their latter day followers engage.

    The Episcopalians do something impressive - The Panda's Thumb

  • If you want to believe in this exercise, the greatest problem is the lack of explicit reference to the interstellar travel at the same time that there is intense focus on the local Solar System, so you have to get past that in a handwaving manner.

    Archive 2010-01-01


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