Here are the conversation (a quote from The Marvelous Mrs.Masel)

The two characters are preparing for a car to travel, and A is clearing up the backseat of the car.

A: This car is unkempt, to say the least.

B: Hey, lady, I could use another hand.

A: I have to make sure nothing back here gets crushed and wrinkled.

What's the meaning of "I could use another hand"?

  • Please identify the speakers by name, and their relationship.
    – TimR
    Dec 15, 2018 at 12:47
  • They are preparing to take a trip by car.
    – TimR
    Dec 15, 2018 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


When someone asks for a "hand", they are asking for assistance:

8a : assistance or aid especially involving physical effort
// lend a hand

"Another hand" is a variation. It could also suggest that there is already someone helping and the speaker is asking for an additional person to help.


In conversational America usage "I could use" can mean "I could readily find a use for". A is complaining that the car is in a messy state, and B is saying (in effect) "I only have two hands; I might be able to tidy up the car, as well as all the things I already do, if I had an extra hand (and arm, of course)." B is employing sarcasm ("Hey, lady" suggests this) to imply that A is criticising unfairly or is not doing her fair share of the tasks that arise. In Britain, certainly, a response to a remark like "The house is untidy" could be "I only have one pair of hands!".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .