I thought it was a common construction. However, a quick Google search told me the contrary: "hail his hand"

Why is this?

  • How do you interpret the meaning of "hail his hand"? What are you trying to communicate with the phrase? Jun 2, 2018 at 8:30
  • @JayA.Little As in "hailing a taxi" or to "hail the bartender for an order."
    – alex
    Jun 2, 2018 at 8:31
  • In regard to your example about waving at a taxi driver to indicate that they should stop the vehicle, a more idiomatic way to say it would be: flag down a taxi. Jun 2, 2018 at 8:44
  • You can hold someone's hand or you can wave your hand(s).
    – Lambie
    Jun 2, 2018 at 14:55
  • Or you can talk to the hand. That doesn't sound like what's meant here though.
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 13, 2018 at 14:50

3 Answers 3


The word you're looking for is wave.


To move or swing as in giving a signal: He waved his hand.


I have never heard the expression to hail his hand. However, you can hail with your hand. For example:

George hailed a taxi.

Most people would assume that this meant that George raised his hand to alert a taxi that he wanted to use their services. George could also have done this by calling out to the driver, or by issuing a shrill whistle, but these methods are less commonly used.

If you wanted to be absolutely clear, you could also say

George raised his hand to hail a taxi.

or even

George hailed a taxi with his hand.

Although the latter is slightly ambiguous.

Hail, in my experience, is most commonly used in connection to flagging down a taxi, but it can be used for drawing the attention of anyone, especially if they are some distance from you, eg

I hailed the passengers on a passing ship.


Oxford Dictionary

Hail (verb)
Call out to (someone) to attract attention.
‘I hailed her in English’

Signal (an approaching taxi) to stop.
‘she raised her hand to hail a cab’

The use of this definition of hail is consistent between dictionaries along the lines of:

To hail (someone or something) = to call or signal to someone or something

So "to hail one's hand" is to call out or signal to the hand. And of course that's not what you mean. As the other answer suggests, you could change hail to wave. Or you could rephrase "hail his hand" to be more specific:

he hails (something) with his hand

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