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

Definition of hand

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

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 3)

: with the hands rather than by machine hand stitched

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ian Ayres, Mahzarin Banaji and Christine Jolls sold 394 baseball cards on eBay, varying only the color of the hand holding the cards. Michael Luca, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Teammates Dave Martinez and Lyle Mouton quickly intervened before things got out of hand. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 14 June 2022 Amid the debate, many experts are wary of dismissing bioenergy out of hand. Jason Thomson, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 June 2022 Hold your tool of choice in the palm of your hand and use circular motions to sweep away debris. Rebecca Norris, Allure, 13 June 2022 The ball explodes out of his hand and rides up in the zone only slightly. Nubyjas Wilborn | Nwilborn@al.com, al, 10 June 2022 For Blair, the products—which feature a gold ring that's held between the fingers as an extension of the hand—were, simply, game-changers. Melody Leibner, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 June 2022 Manley also shared a snap on his own Instagram Story, showing off a photo of Lennox's hand intertwined with his. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, 9 June 2022 As the man presents the ring in a box to his love, an employee, donning mouse ears, jumps in between the couple and grabs the box out of the man's hand. Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, 7 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Johnson spokeswoman Alexa Henning downplayed the texts after they were publicly revealed for the first time during the committee’s hearing in Washington, but did not deny that Johnson had wanted to hand-deliver the slate of fake electors to Pence. Scott Bauer, Chicago Tribune, 21 June 2022 Elections workers must now hand-transfer the votes from those ballots to new ones that can be read in a painstaking process that also raises the possibility of duplication errors. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 23 May 2022 If the label says dry clean only, then do not hand-wash. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, 18 May 2022 Voters who are leery about mail ballots in the wake of reports of a slowdown at the U.S. Postal Service may hand-deliver them Tuesday at elections headquarters, 1103 S. Frio St., during the polling hours. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Nov. 2021 Bottoms said this week that investigators are traveling to Salt Lake City to hand-deliver the DNA evidence themselves. Paul Best, Fox News, 20 Oct. 2021 Some delegates muttered that establishment party leaders were trying to hand him the win. Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2022 Iglesias got to be the one to physically hand him the ball, calling it one of the coolest days of his career. Tony Garcia, Detroit Free Press, 24 Apr. 2022 Rodriguez told Fields to hand him a gun, but Fields allegedly opened fire on the group, according to an arrest warrant. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 19 Apr. 2022 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 19 Sep. 2019 Food that’s healthy for people and healthy for the environment go hand-in-hand. Anne Schamberg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 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, 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, 25 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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

Learn More About hand

Time Traveler for hand

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near hand




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Statistics for hand

Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for hand


\ 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

Hand biographical name

\ ˈhand How to pronounce Hand (audio) \

Definition of Hand

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

More from Merriam-Webster on hand

Nglish: Translation of hand for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hand for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hand


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