\ ˈhan(d)-tə-ˈhand How to pronounce hand-to-hand (audio) , ˈhan-də- \

Definition of hand-to-hand

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

hand to hand


Definition of hand to hand (Entry 2 of 2)

: at very close range

Examples of hand-to-hand in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The fighting was brutal, hand to hand, and the British paratroopers were overrun. National Geographic, "“They told us it would be a walkover,” he recalls. “Instead, we ran into some Panzer divisions nobody seemed to have reckoned on.” The fighting was brutal, hand to hand, and the British paratroopers were overrun. Gregg was captured and sent to a labor camp near Dresden, Germany.," 6 May 2020 No collection baskets may be passed from hand to hand; consider a monitored collection point (i.e. an usher monitoring a single basket near the main doors of the church) to minimize contact. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "In-person Mass to resume, but this is not going to be 'a return to normal,' Archbishop says," 8 May 2020 Employees are disinfecting more than 8,000 train cars and 5,000 buses nightly, requiring rear door boarding on buses by passengers, and eliminated hand to hand cash transactions on buses and at train stops. Fox News, "‘Heroes moving heroes’: Public transit workers pay heavy price on coronavirus frontline," 15 Apr. 2020 Novices begin with two balls and work to keep them in motion from hand to hand. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "These made-up sports will help you survive Michigan's 'stay home' order," 24 Mar. 2020 Once the dash was over, those hoplites who survived could fight hand to hand and press the advantage of better protection from their sturdier shields. National Geographic, "At the Battle of Marathon, Athens' underdog victory stunned Persia," 6 Feb. 2020 The outdoor shoes are removed (Hanks makes sure to toss ’em lightly from hand to hand) and replaced by footwear more suited to the home. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Art of the Awkward Silence in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”," 15 Nov. 2019 That included a video post on Twitter that showed him tossing a brick from hand to hand while moving side to side and back and forth. Laurence Miedema, The Mercury News, "Antonio Brown’s wild ride with the Raiders," 8 Sep. 2019 As the microphone passed from hand to hand, the words of our employees became increasingly personal and emotional. Michelle Murphy, Quartz at Work, "Truly effective diversity training can be measured in goosebumps," 24 July 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of hand-to-hand


1833, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hand-to-hand

Time Traveler for hand-to-hand

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for 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 15 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hand-to-hand


How to pronounce hand to hand (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hand-to-hand

: involving physical contact between people


\ ˌhan-tə-ˈhand \

Kids Definition of hand-to-hand

: involving bodily contact hand-to-hand combat

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hand-to-hand

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hand-to-hand

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hand-to-hand

Spanish Central: Translation of hand-to-hand

Nglish: Translation of hand-to-hand for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hand-to-hand

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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