noun, often attributive
\ ˈhand How to pronounce hand (audio) \

Definition of hand

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : the terminal part of the vertebrate forelimb when modified (as in humans) as a grasping organ : the body part at the end of the arm of a human, ape, or monkey holding a pair of scissors in his hand She put her hands over her eyes.
(2) : the forelimb segment (such as the terminal section of a bird's wing) of a vertebrate higher than the fishes that corresponds to the hand irrespective of its form or functional specialization
b : something resembling a hand: such as
(1) : an indicator or pointer on a dial the hands of a clock
(2) : a character ☞ used to direct particular attention (as to a note or paragraph) : fist, index
(3) : a cluster of bananas developed from a single flower group
(4) : a branched rootstock of ginger
(5) : a bunch of large leaves (as of tobacco) tied together usually with another leaf
c : a part serving the function of or resembling a hand: such as
(1) : the hind foot of an ape
(2) : the chela of a crustacean
2a : personal possession usually used in plural The documents fell into the hands of the enemy.
b : control, supervision usually used in plural left the matter in her hands
3a : one of two sides or aspects of an issue or argument On the one hand we can appeal for peace, and on the other, declare war.
b : side, direction soldiers fighting on either hand
4a : assistance or aid especially involving physical effort lend a hand
b : participation, interest had no hand in the decision
c : a round of applause Let's give them a big hand.
5a : skill, ability tried her hand at sailing
b : an instrumental part had a hand in the victory
6 : a pledge especially of betrothal or bestowal in marriage He asked for her hand in marriage.
7a(1) : the cards or pieces held by a player studied her hand
(2) : a player in a card game or board game
b : a single round in a game lost the first hand but won the next two
c : the force or solidity of one's position (as in negotiations) trying to strengthen their hand
8a(1) : a person employed at manual labor or general tasks a ranch hand
(2) : worker, employee employed over a hundred hands
b : a member of a ship's crew All hands on deck!
c : a person who performs or executes a particular work two portraits by the same hand
d : a person skilled in a particular action or pursuit a great hand at carpentry
e : a specialist or veteran in a usually designated activity or region a Latin America hand
9a : style of execution : workmanship the hand of a master
b : handiwork, doings the hand of vandals
c : the feel of or tactile reaction to something (such as silk or leather)
10a : style of penmanship : handwriting wrote in a fancy hand
b : signature
11 : a unit of measure equal to 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) used especially for the height of horses a horse that is 15 hands high
12 : a punch made with a specified hand knocked him out with a good right hand
at hand
1 : near in time or place : within reach use whatever ingredients are at hand
2 : currently receiving or deserving attention the business at hand
at the hands of or less commonly at the hand of
: by or through the action of suffering at the hands of a cruel dictator
by hand
1 : with the hands or a hand-worked implement (such as a tool or pen) rather than with a machine
2 : from one individual directly to another deliver the document by hand
in hand
1 : in one's possession or control had matters well in hand with money in hand
2 : in preparation a new play in hand
3 : under consideration took the matter in hand
on all hands or on every hand
: everywhere could hear scurrying noises on all hands
on hand
1 : in present possession or readily available kept supplies on hand
2 : in attendance : present A priest was on hand to console them.
3 : about to appear : pending There was trouble on hand.
on one's hands
: in one's possession or care too much time on my hands
out of hand
1 : out of control They let the situation get out of hand.
2 : without delay or deliberation also : in a summary or peremptory manner rejected the plan out of hand
3 : done with : finished
4 : with the hands fruit eaten out of hand
to hand
1 : within reach weapons ready to hand
2 : into possession The letter … has come to hand— George Washington


handed; handing; hands

Definition of hand (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to give, pass, or transmit with the hand hand a letter to her
b : to present or provide with handed him a surprise
2 : to lead, guide, or assist with the hand hand a lady into a bus
3a : furl hand the sail
b obsolete : to touch or manage with the hands also : to deal with
hand it to
: to give credit to : concede the excellence of I have to hand it to him. He did a wonderful job.



Definition of hand (Entry 3 of 4)

: with the hands rather than by machine hand stitched


biographical name
\ ˈhand How to pronounce Hand (audio) \

Definition of Hand (Entry 4 of 4)

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

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Synonyms & Antonyms for hand

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of hand in a Sentence

Noun These gloves will keep your hands warm. She put her hands over her eyes. He sat quietly with his hands folded in his lap. Do you need a hand? Verb was happy to hand her grandmother's cookie recipes to the parish ladies to put in their cookbook the clerk handed her the receipt
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On the other hand, Estonia imposes no estate tax at all. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Another Twist of the Knife: Introducing a New Death Tax," 1 May 2021 On the other hand, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties all rank among the top nine counties statewide in terms of at least partial vaccination — with coverage ranging between 56% and 66%. Los Angeles Times, "California’s secret weapon in COVID-19 success: We are not skeptical about the vaccine," 1 May 2021 On the other hand, 31 children were unknowingly left in hot cars among the 53 in 2019, according to Kids and Cars. Peiyu Lin, The Arizona Republic, "When parents worked from home, fewer children died while left in hot cars in 2020," 1 May 2021 On the other hand, the Afghan military has a lot of experience in countering the insurgents. Robert Burns, ajc, "Pentagon preparing for Taliban attacks during US withdrawal," 30 Apr. 2021 On the other hand, people had more reason to be afraid of a new strain of influenza in 1957 than of a novel coronavirus in 2020. Niall Ferguson, WSJ, "How a More Resilient America Beat a Midcentury Pandemic," 30 Apr. 2021 Country Again on the other hand feels very much rooted in the present and making the most of today. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, "Thomas Rhett Rediscovers His Country Self on the Rootsy New Album ‘Country Again’," 30 Apr. 2021 The Admission Act, on the other hand, would bring Puerto Rico to a final and binding up or down vote on statehood, which the bill’s advocates argue Puerto Ricans have already demonstrated a clear preference for in referendums and polling. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Vexing Question of Puerto Rican Statehood," 30 Apr. 2021 On the other hand, there is a chance of sowing unwarranted doubts about these vaccines and perhaps others as well, inflaming already worrisome levels of vaccine hesitancy. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "Few Would Fear COVID Vaccines if Policy Makers Explained Their Risks Better," 30 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The coaching staff doesn’t have to rush to hand him a starting role. Stephen Means, cleveland, "What’s up with Ryan Watts, Lathan Ransom and Kerry Coombs’ new options in Ohio State football’s secondary? Buckeye Bits," 24 Apr. 2021 Tom Valletta, her neighborhood’s letter carrier, would reach her mailbox and hand her a stack of envelopes. BostonGlobe.com, "The end of an era in Coventry, R.I.," 13 Apr. 2021 The affidavit points to one open-sourced video where Khater is seen telling Tanios to hand him a spray canister near the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol at 2:14 p.m. Alexander Mallin, ABC News, "Two men arrested in assault on Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick," 15 Mar. 2021 If a friend was missing a jacket on a cold day, Davis said Pullum would hand them his coat. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, "'He just had that personality you can fall in love with': Family remembers slain 21-year-old," 6 Mar. 2021 Any team trading for Fuller would need to hand him a new contract. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Bears Q&A: How likely is a tag-and-trade for Allen Robinson? Could Ryan Pace sign or draft a replacement for his best wide receiver? Is Mitch Trubisky still an option at QB?," 24 Feb. 2021 Allums lowered his Taser to hand her the cuffs, and Owens tried to run. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Accused cop killer pleads guilty in 2019 slaying of Birmingham police Sgt. Wytasha Carter," 22 Feb. 2021 Turner is always on edge on the dugout, waiting to shake their hands and hand them autographed baseballs. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: There’s no way relationship between Justin Turner and Dodgers could have ended," 13 Feb. 2021 But evacuees, faced with overflowing trash cans in their quarantine area, would repeatedly approach the officials and personally hand them their trash. Dan Diamond, Anchorage Daily News, "US handling of American evacuees from Wuhan increased coronavirus risks, watchdog finds," 29 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And putting money in people’s pockets goes hand-in-hand with social distancing policies, by defraying some of the costs of closing non-essential businesses, which in turn threatens the reliable paychecks of thousands of workers. Ben Adler, The New Republic, "Bailouts Won’t Save the Economy. More Coronavirus Tests Will.," 13 Apr. 2020 The two phenomena go hand-in-hand: The Arctic Oscillation is positive because the polar vortex is strong. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "What happened to winter? And where's the polar vortex?," 19 Feb. 2020 The developments come a day after the managers hand-delivered the articles of impeachment, adopted by the House in December, to the Senate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signed them in a historic engrossment ceremony. NBC News, "Schiff reads articles of impeachment against Trump on Senate floor," 16 Jan. 2020 One shop sold stuffed toys made to look hand-woven, as if a wry old local was out back sewing Ewok dolls. BostonGlobe.com, "I recently had an early look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando. Here are five interstellar takeaways.," 13 Sep. 2019 His vision is carried on by three generations of his family who hand-pick grapes to make homemade wine. Verna Gates, al, "How to spend 24 hours on the North Alabama Wine Trail," 19 Sep. 2019 Food that’s healthy for people and healthy for the environment go hand-in-hand. Anne Schamberg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Small organic farm aims to stay a step ahead of extreme weather events," 8 Oct. 2019 For the next election, all of L.A. County will be ditching the previous system where voters hand-marked ballots for a system where computers will aid in the marking process. Lila Seidman, Glendale News-Press, "Countywide voting changes coming in 2020," 3 Oct. 2019 Half the fun is perusing the lengthy cocktail list, designed to look hand-scrawled and presented in a small binder. Paul Hodgins, Daily Pilot, "Adult Beverages: SOCIAL’s new Huntington Beach spot is a cocktail paradise," 25 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hand.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hand


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hand

Noun, Verb, and Adverb

Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German hant hand

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Time Traveler for hand

Time Traveler

The first known use of hand was before the 12th century

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Statistics for hand

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for hand



English Language Learners Definition of hand

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the body part at the end of your arm that includes your fingers and thumb
used in some phrases to refer to a person
: power, possession, or control



English Language Learners Definition of hand (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give (something) to someone using your hands


\ ˈhand How to pronounce hand (audio) \

Kids Definition of hand

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the body part at the end of the human arm that includes the fingers and thumb
2 : a bodily structure (as the hind foot of an ape) like the human hand in function or form
3 : a pointer on a clock or watch
4 : help entry 2 sense 1, assistance I gave her a hand loading the truck.
5 : control entry 2 sense 1 The fort is in the hands of the enemy.
6 : one side of a problem On the one hand we could stay. On the other hand we could go.
7 : an outburst of applause Give them a hand.
8 : the cards held by a player in a card game
9 : a hired worker : laborer
10 : a promise of marriage
12 : ability sense 1 I tried my hand at painting.
13 : a unit of measure equal to four inches (about ten centimeters) The horse is 15 hands high.
14 : a part or share in doing something She had a hand in the crime.
at hand
: near in time or place The hour is at hand.
by hand
: without the use of automation : using the hands The stone was carved by hand.
in hand
: in someone's possession or control Map in hand, he's ready to go. I've got the situation well in hand.
on hand
1 : available for use Keep some extra batteries on hand.
2 : present entry 3 sense 2 Please be on hand when the guests arrive.
out of hand
: out of control The party got out of hand.


handed; handing

Kids Definition of hand (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give or pass with the hand Please hand me the knife.


noun, often attributive
\ ˈhand How to pronounce hand (audio) \

Medical Definition of hand

1a(1) : the terminal part of the vertebrate forelimb when modified (as in humans) as a grasping organ
(2) : the forelimb segment (as the terminal section of a bird's wing) of a vertebrate higher than the fishes that corresponds to the hand irrespective of its form or functional specialization
b : a part serving the function of or resembling a hand especially : the hind foot of an ape
c : something resembling a hand especially : an indicator or pointer on a dial
2 : a unit of measure equal to 4 inches or 10.2 centimeters used especially for the height of horses

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