noun, often attributive
\ˈhand \

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 : 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

c : 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

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 : side, direction men fighting on either hand

b : 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

4 : a pledge especially of betrothal or bestowal in marriage He asked for her hand in marriage.

5a : style of penmanship : handwriting wrote in a fancy hand

b : signature

6a : skill, ability tried her hand at sailing

b : an instrumental part had a hand in the victory

7 : 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

8a : 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.

9a(1) : a player in a card game or board game

(2) : the cards or pieces held by a player studied her hand

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

10a : a person who performs or executes a particular work two portraits by the same hand

b(1) : a person employed at manual labor or general tasks a ranch hand

(2) : worker, employee employed over a hundred hands

c : a member of a ship's crew all hands on deck

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

11a : handiwork, doings the hand of vandals

b : style of execution : workmanship the hand of a master

c : the feel of or tactile reaction to something (such as silk or leather)

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 : about to appear : pending There was trouble on hand.

3 : in attendance : present A priest was on hand to console them.

on one's hands

: in one's possession or care too much time on my hands

out of hand

1 : without delay or deliberation also : in a summary or peremptory manner rejected the plan out of hand

2 : done with : finished

3 : out of control They let the situation get out of hand.

4 : with the hands fruit eaten out of hand

to hand

1 : into possession the letter … has come to hand— George Washington

2 : within reach weapons ready to hand



Definition of hand (Entry 2 of 4)

: with the hands rather than by machine hand stitched


handed; handing; hands

Definition of hand (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1a obsolete : to touch or manage with the hands also : to deal with

b : furl hand the sail

2 : to lead, guide, or assist with the hand hand a lady into a bus

3a : to give, pass, or transmit with the hand hand a letter to her

b : to present or provide with handed him a surprise

hand it to

: to give credit to : concede the excellence of I have to hand it to him. He did a wonderful job.


biographical name
\ˈhand \

Definition of Hand (Entry 4 of 4)

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

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Examples of hand in a Sentence


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?


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

In a meeting like this, etiquette requires Trump to wait until the queen offers her hand, then to shake it politely and move on. BostonGlobe.com, "Royal etiquette for the Trumps’ visit: Don’t kiss the queen," 13 July 2018 Besides their whirlwind romance and engagement, the pair has collectively gotten nine tattoos on their hands, heads, and feet that are dedicated to each other in some way. Lindsey V Thompson, Allure, "Ariana Grande’s Finger Tattoo Has Fans in a Heated Debate Over Its Meaning," 13 July 2018 Members of the American Red Cross were also on hand to help those affected by the fire. Hunter Woodall And Max Londberg, kansascity, "Child, 4, killed in KCK apartment fire, fire marshal says. Three others injured," 7 July 2018 With a friend, toss the ball back and forth for, say, 15 seconds, which even will help to strengthen eye-hand coordination, Schwartz said. Mike Candelaria, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Got 5 minutes? You have time to exercise," 11 July 2018 But the botanicals and essential oils awaken our senses, the lush suds overtake our dirty hands, and the packaging tickles the visual part of our brains. Tyler Watamanuk, New York Times, "When Did Soap, Once Simple, Get So Complicated?," 11 July 2018 And with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s hand-off approach, the buck here stops with him. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "Worst fears realized in Trump's overseas trip — and it's not over yet," 13 July 2018 And the group’s total cash on hand dwarfs that of its counterpart on the other side of the aisle, the House Majority PAC. Alana Abramson, Time, "This Republican Super PAC Raised $51 Million to Try and Save the Party's House Majority," 12 July 2018 Growing up with a hands-on mother like Diana has shaped his own parenting style. Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com, "How Prince William Is Creating the Same ‘Loving, Caring, Fun Home’ as His Mom Princess Diana," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The chief pollinators of the lettuce garden that the farming pioneer Frank Bienkowski planted more than 200 years ago, the bees go hand-in-hand with the fresh produce offered on the menu throughout the summer season. Discover Magazine, "One-on-One with Executive Chef Kevin Erving," 6 July 2018 Gulluni said although investigators had been hand-digging through areas of the property Friday morning, no other remains have been recovered. Jerome Campbell, Travis Andersen, BostonGlobe.com, "Police discover three bodies at Springfield home," 1 June 2018 The intelligence community's credibility just got a big boost, too An effort to undermine the broader intelligence community goes hand-in-hand with Trump and his allies' assessment that Russia was indifferent about who became president. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "The Russia report Trump likes best just took a big credibility hit," 16 May 2018 Belmont Books, which opened in June 2017, plays host to local authors hand-selling their own favorites, as well as scavenger hunts, tours, and more. BostonGlobe.com, "Five things to do the week of April 23-29," 20 Apr. 2018 The former director of admissions and vice provost who hand-delivered the acceptance letter for his son during a football game. Mark Zeigler, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Is the day nearing when Michigan will properly acknowledge Steve Fisher?," 1 Apr. 2018 The Braves' successes go hand-in-hand with the Phillies' failures. Si.com Staff, SI.com, "Nine Innings: Blowing Up Small Sample Sizes, Heroic Homer Feats and Establishing an All-MLB Team," 2 Apr. 2018 Sarah Lee, Co-founder of Glow Recipe explains that she’s even seen workers hand-fold sheet masks with tools on a completely sterile assembly line (after going through a decontamination shower), of course. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "What’s in Your Sheet Mask?," 28 Mar. 2018 While the rest of the world grappled with the truth that there was trouble in their billion-dollar paradise, Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcomed a set of new twins and graced industry events hand-in-hand throughout 2017. refinery29.com, "I Hope OTRII Is The Last Joint Tour From Beyoncé & Jay-Z," 12 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

European Union lawmakers rejected new copyright rules Thursday, instead opting for more debate and handing a victory to tech firms that face a broader European effort to rein them in on privacy, taxes and other rules. Sam Schechner, WSJ, "Tech Companies Win Reprieve as EU Parliament Delays Copyright Law," 5 July 2018 Failagi handed him a small water bottle and then tore open a packet of pills. Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "Meet the city health worker who tracks down tuberculosis patients in Anchorage," 3 July 2018 After the Supreme Court handed President Trump a huge victory by upholding his travel ban on Tuesday, the day ended with him losing a separate battle with the judiciary. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Judge Orders Trump Administration to Reunite Migrant Families Within 30 Days," 27 June 2018 However, the high court denied the city’s request and handed the final victory to the firefighters union, whose leaders have steadfastly refused to negotiate a new contract because of the ongoing lawsuit. Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News, "City to end fight over fire union contract after defeat in high court," 22 June 2018 Philippe Coutinho was the hero on Friday afternoon as his second goal of the tournament handed Brazil their first victory of the World Cup. SI.com, "Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica: Late Double Makes Victory Look Easy for Brazil In Hard Fought Encounter," 22 June 2018 That should effectively hand the victory in the 37th Assembly District to incumbent Rep. John Jagler, a Watertown Republican. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bice: Assembly candidate doesn't challenge accusations that she forged nomination signatures," 8 June 2018 Kiser's only miss of the afternoon was a spike attempt that sailed wide that handed Beavercreek a 25-23 second-set victory. Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati.com, "Moeller volleyball handles Beavercreek, advances to Division I state championship," 3 June 2018 The warm display left some former U.S. officials who've negotiated with North Korea arguing that Trump had already handed Pyongyang another public relations victory before winning concessions on its nuclear program. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Has North Korea already trumped the U.S. in the propaganda war?," 2 June 2018

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)


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hand


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


see hand entry 1


see hand entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near hand






hand's turn


Statistics for hand

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hand

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

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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

hands : power, possession, or control



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

: to give (something) to someone using your hands


\ˈhand \

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 \

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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Comments on hand

What made you want to look up hand? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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