come in handy


come in handy (idiom)
/kʌm ɪn ˈhændi/


  • to be useful or convenient, especially at some future time.
  • to be of practical use or assistance.
  • to be beneficial in a particular situation.

Example Sentences

  1. The extra money will come in handy when we go on vacation.
  2. Keep this manual; it might come in handy if you need to troubleshoot the device.
  3. Her experience in marketing came in handy during the product launch.
  4. A flashlight will come in handy if the power goes out.
  5. Learning a few phrases in the local language can come in handy when traveling abroad.

Origin and History

The phrase “come in handy” has been in use since the 18th century. It likely derives from the nautical term “handy,” meaning easy to handle or maneuver. Over time, people began to use this term more broadly to describe anything useful or convenient.

The idiom started appearing in print in the mid-1700s and gained significant popularity around the 1840s. The earliest printed record of the idiom dates back to 1773 in the book titled Amateur Work Illustrated, Volume 4, on page 144:

“Thirdly, should anyone be in immediate want of a little scenery and do not know how to proceed as regards painting it, the paper scenery will come in handy until these papers are sufficiently advanced to enable them to undertake the painting of scenery on canvas.”

This early documentation of the phrase provides a fascinating glimpse into its historical usage, underscoring the enduring practicality and relevance of the idiom over centuries. The record bears witness to the idiom’s enduring presence in the English language, showcasing its use in various contexts to describe useful or convenient things since the 18th century.

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