invisible hand


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invisible hand

n.
An economic principle, first postulated by Adam Smith, holding that the greatest benefit to a society is brought about by individuals acting freely in a competitive marketplace in the pursuit of their own self-interest.
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References in classic literature ?
It is as if an invisible hand had been stealthily uplifted from the bottom to catch hold of her keel as it glides through the water.
Early in the morning, before she had risen, he cleared away the snow that obstructed her path to the milk-house, drew water from the well, and brought the wood from the outhouse, where, to his perpetual astonishment, he found his store always replenished by an invisible hand.
They saw the flashes and the men falling and an invisible hand, as it were, lit the bushes as it hurried towards them through the twilight.
A huge black, standing directly before him, lunged backward as though felled by an invisible hand.
While he was speaking, the curtain of smoke that had concealed the hollow, driven by a rising wind, began to move from right to left as if drawn by an invisible hand, and the hill opposite, with the French moving about on it, opened out before them.
At the same time, as though an invisible hand had lifted the weight which had repressed her tears in her heart for so long, she began to weep, and, in proportion as her tears flowed, she felt all that was most acrid and bitter in her grief depart with them.
As she did not know that it was guided by an invisible hand she was very much astonished, and the moment that the pen had ceased to move she instantly went over to the table, where she found some lovely verses, telling her that another shared her distresses, whatever they might be, and loved her with all his heart; and that he would never rest until he had delivered her from the hands of the man she hated.
If we are to believe tradition, whoever attempts to pass that spring, by leaping over it, is immediately swallowed up; and whoever tries to draw water from it, feels himself repulsed by an invisible hand.
She said afterwards that she had never seen in all her life such a face as the King made, when he found himself held in the air by an invisible hand, and being dusted: he was far too much astonished to cry out, but his eyes and his mouth went on getting larger and larger, and rounder and rounder, till her hand shook so with laughing that she nearly let him drop upon the floor.
It might have been fancied, indeed, that she expected to minister to the wants of the community unseen, like a disembodied divinity or enchantress, holding forth her bargains to the reverential and awe-stricken purchaser in an invisible hand.
We have supplicated heaven in vain to grant us this favor, but the whole affair has had a mysterious meaning that we cannot comprehend -- we have been guided by an invisible hand, -- a hand as powerful as that of an enchanter.
D'Artagnan felt something like the presence of an invisible hand which had, all-powerfully, created this strength, this joy, this happiness, and spread everywhere these perfumes.