handwave

handwave

[possibly from gestures characteristic of stage magicians] To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener; to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty logic.

If someone starts a sentence with "Clearly..." or "Obviously..." or "It is self-evident that...", it is a good bet he is about to handwave (alternatively, use of these constructions in a sarcastic tone before a paraphrase of someone else's argument suggests that it is a handwave). The theory behind this term is that if you wave your hands at the right moment, the listener may be sufficiently distracted to not notice that what you have said is wrong. Failing that, if a listener does object, you might try to dismiss the objection with a wave of your hand.

The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up, palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at the elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms in one position while rotating the hands at the wrist to make them flutter. In context, the gestures alone can suffice as a remark; if a speaker makes an outrageously unsupported assumption, you might simply wave your hands in this way, as an accusation, far more eloquent than words could express, that his logic is faulty.
References in periodicals archive ?
For more information please visit Handwave Publications.
Slowly he met the entire neighborhood, one handshake, one prolonged introduction, one head nod, one handwave, at a time.
4) Is that handwave a greeting or a quick so-long from Larry Brown at his first Knicks news conference?
i) head-kick one's way through life; handwave data out of existence; fundraise on; copyedit on
You know, the one with the irritating little handwave at the end of news bulletins.
The shock of a friendly handwave as we passed new neighbors on the road was a first indication of times to come.