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What Does "Close at Hand" Mean?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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"Close at hand" is an idiom that is used to refer to a real or perceived distance between two objects. Typically, this English saying conveys the idea that the two objects are within reach of one another, implying that the connection will be complete shortly. Close at hand may refer to the geographical location of a destination, the state between two individuals, or even the impending occurrence of a specific event.

As it relates to geography, "close at hand" normally implies that a city, town, or other location is nearby. For example, if someone is traveling to the beach and passes a traffic sign that indicates the last turn before arriving at the beach is coming up, it can be said that the beach is close at hand. In like manner, if a traffic sign indicates that the city limits for a given town will be reached shortly, the driver can correctly state that the town is close at hand. When an employee lives just a few blocks from the workplace, it can be said that he or she is close at hand, implying that in an emergency that employee could get to the workplace quickly and help deal with the problem.

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This idiomatic expression can also be used to identify the current proximity of two people to one another. When someone is close at hand, this implies that the person is close enough to be touched if desired. In a similar sense, an individual may close at hand in terms of being held emotionally close to the heart of a loved one, even if the two people are physically located a considerable distance from one another. When this is the case, the ability to reach that person through some sort of communication process may help to bolster this sense of being close on some level, in spite of that geographic distance.

In all its uses, close at hand implies a closeness and intimacy that makes contact relatively easy to manage, at least on some level. This state of being nearby often provides support and comfort during periods of distress, even when the closeness takes the form of being readily available by way of a telephone call or an email. Typically, having someone close in some manner makes it easier to deal with difficult situations, since there is a sense of not being alone and left with nothing but personal resources to deal with whatever circumstances are arising.

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