1 of 2


: involving physical contact or close enough range for physical contact
hand-to-hand fighting

hand to hand

2 of 2


: at very close range

Examples of hand-to-hand in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
For most of its run, The Americans' action set pieces were all mostly emotional (give or take the occasional murder or hand-to-hand fight). Ew Staff Published, EW.com, 3 May 2024 Among the stunts The Fall Guy wraps its romantic comedy around are high falls (those averse to heights may be uncomfortable watching Gosling swing from a helicopter), hand-to-hand combat and a world-record-breaking vehicular stunt involving a Jeep’s 8.5 cannon rolls, or head-over-head flips. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 3 May 2024 Latu specializes in hand-to-hand combat, features a pro-ready arsenal of pass-rush moves and became the first Bruin to win the Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman) and Hendricks Award (best defensive end) last season. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Apr. 2024 But this conflict, with its hand-to-hand combat and profusion of land mines, feels like a throwback to the kind of civil war that was documented in black and white. Hannah Beech Adam Ferguson, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2024 One of Williams’s co-defendants has been accused of a hand-to-hand drug swap in full view of judge. Herb Scribner, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2024 With both Charly and Hassan now captive, Griselda decides to make the two fight to the death in hand-to-hand combat. Megan McCluskey, TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Racks of obviously fake test tubes are relayed hand-to-hand when Tommy is being examined by doctors. Jesse Green, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 That includes in 2020 when hand-to-hand fighting between the two sides resulted in the deaths of at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers in Aksai Chin-Ladakh in the western stretches of the border. Simone McCarthy, CNN, 22 Mar. 2024
Drones carrying the Hezbollah and Lebanese flags fluttered above as the paramilitaries drilled below, firing explosives at targets, fighting hand to hand and simulating cross-border attacks on mock Israeli outposts. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Finally, 38 hours after the collapse, the rescuers took the twins from Ibrahim and passed them hand to hand down the rubble. Safak Timur Emin Ozmen, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2024 This interactive 90-minute show includes human pyramids, dish spinning, stick balance, contortion, chair balance, unicycling, juggling, hand to hand balance, pole acts, hoop diving, as well as comedy and more. Staff Report, Chicago Tribune, 25 Jan. 2024 Cannonballs aside, combat — well-staged and performed, in the tradition of martial arts movies — is almost entirely hand to hand (or sword to sword). Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 The county decided to delay implementation while businesses were already grappling with how to stay open and keep employees safe, and there were questions about whether passing reusable bags from hand to hand could spur the spread of the coronavirus. Kaitlin Durbin, cleveland, 5 Jan. 2022 It’s forged with the intention of being passed from hand to hand, taken as plunder, given as a gift or handed down to heirs. David M. Perry and Matthew Gabriele, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Two people, hand to hand. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 15 Nov. 2021 Voter registration forms weaved from hand to hand. Dallas News, 3 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hand-to-hand.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1833, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hand-to-hand was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near hand-to-hand

hand to hand



Cite this Entry

“Hand-to-hand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand-to-hand. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: involving physical contact
hand-to-hand combat

More from Merriam-Webster on hand-to-hand

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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