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

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 : 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 4)

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 4)

: with the hands rather than by machine hand stitched


biographical name
\ ˈhand How to pronounce Hand (audio) \

Definition of Hand (Entry 4 of 4)

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

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Synonyms & Antonyms for hand

Synonyms: Noun

angle, aspect, facet, phase, side

Synonyms: Verb

deliver, feed, furnish, give, hand over, provide, supply

Antonyms: Verb

hold (back), keep (back), reserve, retain, withhold

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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

On the other hand, everybody who’s running a company or is part of the discovery of AI watched the Internet get developed. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman on Bitcoin: “I Was Raised in a World Where Someone Needs to Control Currencies”," 17 Sep. 2019 On the other hand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have had a mixed start to the season, currently finding themselves fourth in the table. SI.com, "Gary Neville Names the 3 Liverpool Stars Man Utd Should Have Signed to Help Premier League Title Bid," 17 Sep. 2019 The new couple was spotted holding hands just one week after Zooey Deschanel announced her split from husband Jacob Pechenik Zooey Deschanel‘s new romance with Property Brothers star Jonathan Scott blossomed from a friendship. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Zooey Deschanel and Jonathan Scott 'Started Talking as Friends' After Meeting on Carpool Karaoke," 16 Sep. 2019 Friday, Hollywood Life published photos of the pair holding hands while reportedly grabbing dinner in Silver Lake, California. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "It's official: Zooey Deschanel and Jonathan Scott are dating after meeting in August," 16 Sep. 2019 Many tombs have been found in the past with couples holding hands, but in all cases there was a man and a woman. NBC News, "'Lovers of Modena': Hand-holding Roman skeletons were both men, researchers discover," 13 Sep. 2019 The 56-year-old actress walked into the federal courthouse in Boston while holding hands with her husband, William H. Macy, who has not been charged in the scandal. CBS News, "Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in jail," 13 Sep. 2019 Huffman walked briskly into court with a grave expression, holding hands with her husband, actor William H. Macy. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Felicity Huffman gets 14 days in prison for role in college admissions scandal," 13 Sep. 2019 Soon, Mendes and Cabello were seen making out and holding hands from coast to coast. Los Angeles Times, "Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello do not kiss like fish at all," 12 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Within a couple of days of me leaving an opposition research firm did a freedom of information request for all my emails and the EPA immediately handed them over. Oliver Milman, Scientific American, "The Silenced: Meet the Climate Whistle-Blowers Muzzled by the Trump Administration," 17 Sep. 2019 With Divock Origi ruled out with injury Klopp could also hand a debut to teenager Rhian Brewster from the bench. SI.com, "Liverpool: The XI That Should Start Against Napoli," 17 Sep. 2019 After the rescue, firefighters handed the dog over to the International Fund for Animal Welfare; however one of the Gainesville crew members is pursuing adoption of the dog and plans on bringing it to Florida. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida firefighters save dog trapped under fallen house in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian," 16 Sep. 2019 Panama’s switch handed Tsai her biggest foreign relations setback because of the Panama Canal’s strategic importance to shipping. Los Angeles Times, "In checkbook diplomacy duel, China pledges at least $8.6 billion to win over Taiwan’s allies," 16 Sep. 2019 Wells handed Andersen a program that returns nine starters from last season’s 11-2 team that defeated North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl and finished No. 22 in the AP poll. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Scouting Report: Utah State at Aztecs," 16 Sep. 2019 With the win, the Bulldogs handed the Comets their worst loss since 2014, when Solon lost 34-0 to Brunswick, according to joeeitel.com. cleveland.com, "No. 18 Stow upsets No. 6 Solon, 50-19, hands Comets worst loss since 2014," 13 Sep. 2019 On most snaps, the quarterback will either hand to a fullback up the middle, keep on a run off tackle or pitch to a running back farther on the perimeter. Greg Luca, ExpressNews.com, "UTSA preparing for Army’s triple-option onslaught," 13 Sep. 2019 At The CurvyCon, Olisa — a plus-size woman — was literally handing the microphone over to Jamil, and that’s why her role in the conversation is so controversial. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Jameela Jamil Advocates for Fat People Despite Being a Thin Woman, and That’s Okay," 12 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

She’s impressed customers at farmers markets and pop-ups with her artistry and adornments on her array of chocolates, many meticulously hand-painted ($15 for 4; $31 for 9; $55 for 16). Ann Trieger Kurland, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s time to enjoy Tick Tock Chocolates," 1 July 2019 The steak tips are still hand-cut and tender and the bar pours a killer martini. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "These are 9 definitive Downriver dining destinations," 6 Sep. 2019 The Lafairs also hand-delivered games to various politicians, including the one Democratic Congressman who's represented Austin across several Texas map redraws: Lloyd Doggett (TX-35). Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering game that puts the fun in undermining democracy," 19 Aug. 2019 One of those was his father, a technical illustrator who worked in the space program in the 1970s and was the artist who hand-painted the American flag on the large shuttle orbiter mockup in Building 9 at Johnson Space Center. Yvette Orozco, Houston Chronicle, "Friendswood takes pride in having 3 residents at once in space," 26 July 2019 Some, such as mathematician Katherine Johnson—who hand-calculated the details of the trajectory of the flight that would make Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962—stayed behind the scenes. National Geographic, "Countdown to a new era inSpace," 17 June 2019 Inside, tables are lit with candles and strewn with flowers hand-dipped in wax. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "How Sackler Became the Most Toxic Name in Philanthropy," 16 May 2019 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

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)


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

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Dictionary Entries near hand






hand's turn


Statistics for hand

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

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
: power, possession, or control



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

: to give (something) to someone using your hands


\ 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hand

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hand

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hand

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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