back·​hand | \ ˈbak-ˌhand How to pronounce backhand (audio) \

Definition of backhand

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a stroke (as in tennis) made with the back of the hand turned in the direction of movement also : the side on which such strokes are made
b : a catch (as in baseball) made to the side of the body opposite the hand being used
2 : handwriting whose strokes slant downward from left to right



Definition of backhand (Entry 2 of 4)

: made with a backhand a backhand tennis stroke


back·​hand | \ ˈbak-ˌhand How to pronounce backhand (audio) \
variants: or backhanded \ ˈbak-​ˈhan-​dəd How to pronounce backhand (audio) \

Definition of backhand (Entry 3 of 4)

: with a backhand


backhanded; backhanding; backhands

Definition of backhand (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to do, hit, or catch backhand

Illustration of backhand

Illustration of backhand


backhand 1a

In the meaning defined above

Examples of backhand in a Sentence

Noun She has a good backhand but a weak forehand.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Cirelli, back after missing two weeks, took a pass from Stamkos inside the Dallas blue line and raced in for a breakaway and pulled the puck to his backhand before lifting it over Khudobin for his seventh career short-handed goal at 4:06. Erik Erlendsson, Star Tribune, "Lightning beat Stars 5-0 in first Stanley Cup rematch," 27 Feb. 2021 During a scramble in front of Pekka Rinne, Glendening was able to direct a backhand into the net despite being on his knees, at 4:55 of the first period. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings' Sam Gagner has hat trick in 5-2 win over Nashville Predators," 26 Feb. 2021 San Jose needed just 1:22 to score the opening goal, hemming Los Angeles in its own end before Meier cut across the crease to fake out Petersen and bury a backhand into an open net. Dan Greenspan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Evander Kane's late goal ties game, then Sharks top Kings in shootout," 9 Feb. 2021 Andrei Svechnikov beat Khudobin with a backhand followed by a Ryan Dzingel score from the right circle. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Hurricanes turn tables on Stars with special teams scoring barrage ending Dallas’ unbeaten streak," 30 Jan. 2021 Larkin stoked the momentum with a goal, capitalizing on a nice setup by Smith and stuffing a backhand at 4:12. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings' skid hits six with 3-2 loss to Florida Panthers," 1 Feb. 2021 The oldest player in the league (42) threw a sharp-angle backhand on net that snuck under Selander’s pads. Matt Porter,, "Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille stymies Pride," 23 Jan. 2021 Olympia is seen attempting a ferocious backhand before sitting down and throwing balls to her mom. CNN, "Serena Williams' daughter joins her on the tennis court ahead of Australian Open," 20 Jan. 2021 Coleman made it 3-0 by swatting a backhand from inside the crease at 8:11. Erik Erlendsson, Star Tribune, "Stamkos, Palat lift Lightning over Blackhawks again," 15 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And with 2:35 to go in the first, the fourth line contributed for a third straight game after Nico Sturm redirected in a backhand feed from Nick Bjugstad. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Matt Dumba scores with under a second remaining to give Wild 4-3 OT win over Los Angeles," 27 Feb. 2021 Nielsen drove to the net and tested Korpisalo with a backhand attempt in the opening minute of the game. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings lose to Blue Jackets 3-2: Bobby Ryan scores twice, melee in final minute," 18 Jan. 2021 Smith tried, in one motion, to make a backhand catch and swipe a tag on Arozarena, but Smith rushed the play, and the ball squirted out of his glove and toward the backstop. Mike Digiovanna Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers’ Will Smith explains his view of fateful last play in Game 4," 25 Oct. 2020 In the ninth, Robinson made a backhand grab of a Bench line drive. Mike Klingaman,, "‘I was in a zone’: Orioles great Brooks Robinson’s awe-inspiring World Series remembered 50 years later," 21 Oct. 2020 After holding for 5-3 with a backhand winner down the line, Osaka closed the set with one more break, prevailing in a five-deuce miniseries with the help of two world-class forehands, one a return and one off the ground. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Analysis: In a hard-fought match featuring two gutsy champions, Naomi Osaka showed more heart," 13 Sep. 2020 Bader made a backhand diving catch in left-center to rob Castellanos of an extra-base hit leading off the eighth. David Solomon, Star Tribune, "Miller hit batter, walk, wild pitch lifts Reds over Cards," 13 Sep. 2020 Williams held at love for 3-2, and then broke Ahn again at 15, closing it with a crackling backhand winner down the line. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Serena Williams beats Kristie Ahn in straight sets to open quest for Grand Slam No. 24," 1 Sep. 2020 But after squandering three breakpoints for 3-0, she got broken in the next game on a backhand error. Danielle Rossingh, CNN, "Serena Williams battles past sister Venus in their 31st career clash," 13 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb He was equally adept with his forehand and backhand. Washington Post, "Tony Trabert, Hall of Fame tennis champion of the 1950s, dies at 90," 7 Feb. 2021 The Predators cut it to 4-2 at 5:57 of the third on a backhand rebound shot from Olivier before Arvidsson cut the deficit to a goal with 1:34 left. Erik Erlendsson, Star Tribune, "Lightning strike in big 2nd period, beat Predators 4-3," 30 Jan. 2021 Stephens answered with two blistering winners, one a backhand down the line, one a crosscourt forehand, and had another highlight-film winner, an inside-out forehand, to spank away another break point. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Analysis: Serena Williams often loses her cool when facing defeat. Now, she's all about calm.," 5 Sep. 2020 When Osaka steered a backhand wide moments later, Azarenka was level, the match on serve, the title coming down to a winner here, and error there, as Wim Fisette, Osaka’s coach (and formerly Azarenka’s coach) had predicted a a day earlier. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Analysis: In a hard-fought match featuring two gutsy champions, Naomi Osaka showed more heart," 13 Sep. 2020 But a down-the-line backhand veered a tad wide, Djokovic rolled his eyes and, eventually, he was somehow pushed to five sets. Star Tribune, "Novak Djokovic pushed to five sets before reaching final in French Open against Rafael Nadal," 9 Oct. 2020 The ploy worked only because Story, playing in, made a spectacular backhand stop of a 104-mph Evan Longoria shot and forced Dickerson at the plate with a throw from his knees before Mauricio Dubon's popout ended the inning. Henry Schulman,, "Giants end frustrating split with Rockies by blowing early lead, losing in 11," 24 Sep. 2020 On the next, Zverev floated a backhand wide and Thiem won the match, 2–6, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6 (6). Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Without Fans, the Drama of the U.S. Open Came from Within," 14 Sep. 2020 Azarenka drilling another crackling backhand down the line to complete a set that was a work of art for one player and a debacle for the other. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Naomi Osaka rallies for three-set win over Victoria Azarenka and her second US Open title," 12 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sammy Walker took a backhand pass from Scott Reedy and blasted a shot past Beydoun and off the post and in to tie the score 1-1. Randy Johnson, Star Tribune, "Rapid-fire goals in third period send Wisconsin men's hockey to 4-1 victory over Gophers," 5 Feb. 2021 Minnesota boosted the lead to 3-1 at 13:50 of the second when Sampo Ranta scored his 10th goal of the season after taking a backhand pass from Meyers. Randy Johnson, Star Tribune, "Gophers hockey caps dominant weekend with 10-2 rout over Arizona State," 22 Jan. 2021 The pair continued to prevent each other winning the second set, saving match points and set points, before Djokovic clinched the set-winning point as Thiem's backhand return could only find the net. Ben Morse, CNN, "Dominic Thiem edges Novak Djokovic in thriller to advance to final of ATP Finals," 21 Nov. 2020 Half a century later, Brooks Robinson recalls every part of the play: a bullet off the bat of Reds slugger Lee May that hugged the foul line and seemed a sure hit until — 15 feet past third base — Robinson lunged to his right to backhand the ball. Mike Klingaman,, "‘I was in a zone’: Orioles great Brooks Robinson’s awe-inspiring World Series remembered 50 years later," 21 Oct. 2020 Falling behind 0-4, Williams pounded spectacular forehand and backhand winners to get to 6-6, but Sakkari, ever poised, took the match into the third set when Williams knocked a forehand long. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Serena Williams fights off Maria Sakkari, advances to U.S. Open quarterfinals," 7 Sep. 2020 Kadri sprung through a wall of Coyotes statues and beat Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper with a backhand finish. Richard Morin, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Coyotes' season ends with another blowout playoff loss to Colorado Avalanche," 19 Aug. 2020 In the early going, Zadina made a nifty move around a defender in the Carolina zone and backhanded a pass to Valtteri Filppuli, who couldn't push the puck past Hurricanes goalie James Reimer. Dana Gauruder, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings shut out by Hurricanes, 2-0, in Filip Zadina's season debut," 25 Nov. 2019 Tyler Seguin scored two goals, including the game-winner 2:52 into overtime by toe-dragging around Victor Mete and backhanding a shot past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Tyler Seguin finishes best Stars comeback of the season with an overtime goal against the Canadiens," 16 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'backhand.' 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 backhand


1657, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1695, in the meaning defined above


1767, in the meaning defined above


circa 1896, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for backhand

Time Traveler

The first known use of backhand was in 1657

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Statistics for backhand

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Backhand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for backhand



English Language Learners Definition of backhand

: a way of hitting a ball in tennis and similar games in which the back of the hand holding the racket is turned in the direction of the ball
: a catch in baseball and similar games that is made on the side of the body that is opposite the hand being used


back·​hand | \ ˈbak-ˌhand How to pronounce backhand (audio) \

Kids Definition of backhand

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a stroke in sports played with a racket that is made with the back of the hand turned in the direction in which the hand is moving
2 : a catch (as in baseball) made with the arm across the body and the palm turned away from the body


adverb or adjective

Kids Definition of backhand (Entry 2 of 2)

: with a backhand caught backhand

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