I've read that idioms are generally an aspect of informal language and also that some of these idioms can be used in formal writing. 'At hand' is an idiom which I think it can be used in formal writing (eg. to mean available as in 'the new edition is now at hand') but at the same time it is still an idiomatic expression. So, is it formal or informal?

Thanks in advance.

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    Regardless of whether it's used in a formal register (it is, for your records), I don't think at hand means what you think it means. It's used to mean "close by", either literally or figuratively, but it doesn't really mean "available" in the sense you're trying to ascribe to the idiom. Take a look at its dictionary entry at en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/at_hand: the second sense is "Readily accessible when needed.", and that's as close as you can get to the desired meaning. – userr2684291 Jul 1 '17 at 17:33
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    The expression is equally acceptable in both formal and informal contexts. – P. E. Dant Jul 1 '17 at 20:59
  • @userr2684291 Here in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, it provides an example saying: 'we want to ensure that help is 'at hand'(=easily available) for all children suffering from abuse'. Isn't it the same as : 'we want to ensure that help is 'available' for all children suffering from abuse'? please clarify. – sabah Jul 2 '17 at 14:42
  • Yeah, note the difference between easily available (= readily accessible) and obtainable, which is what available means in context of a book's new edition that's just been published. – userr2684291 Jul 2 '17 at 17:44

Your expression

at hand

can be used both formally and informally, and

on hand - immediately available

to hand - in one's hand (BrE)

are the same.

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