all hands

1 of 2

plural noun

: an entire ship's company
: everybody engaged in the same pursuit


2 of 2


: characterized by the participation or contributions of all individuals in a group
an all-hands effort
And this Friday, the agency's deputy administrator … will come to NASA Glenn, in part to hold an all-hands meeting with employees …Becky Gaylord, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 5 Aug. 2003

Word History

First Known Use

Plural Noun

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1840, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of all hands was in 1580

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near all hands

Cite this Entry

“All hands.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!