hand

1 of 3

noun

often attributive
1
a(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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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.
5
a
: 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.
7
a(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
8
a(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
9
a
: 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)
10
a
: style of penmanship : handwriting
wrote in a fancy hand
b
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

hand

2 of 3

verb

handed; handing; hands

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
3
a
: furl
hand the sail
b
obsolete : to touch or manage with the hands
also : to deal with

hand

3 of 3

adverb

: with the hands rather than by machine
hand stitched
Phrases
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 handGeorge Washington
hand it to
: to give credit to : concede the excellence of
I have to hand it to him. He did a wonderful job.

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Chapple opened the passenger side door, holding a gun in his left hand and a cellphone in right hand, the video shows. Ishani Desai, Sacramento Bee, 8 June 2024 As Roaring Kitty, Gill posted videos on YouTube during the pandemic — at a time when Americans were stuck indoors, leading some to try their hands at investing. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, 7 June 2024
Verb
Burrell and Williams talked about how their own parents and grandparents purchased burial insurance, putting aside small amounts — sometimes just 50 cents a month — to hand the agent who regularly knocked on the door and initialed their savings book to note the payment. Joseph Shapiro, NPR, 8 June 2024 The players dropped catches and missed bats, handing crucial opportunities to the Americans, said Feroz Shah, 30, who called Pakistan’s game a disaster. John Yoon, New York Times, 7 June 2024
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 See all Example Sentences for hand 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word '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

Etymology

Noun, Verb, and Adverb

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

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near hand

Cite this Entry

“Hand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand. Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

hand

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: the free end part of the arm or forelimb when used (as in human beings) for handling, grasping, and holding
b
: any of various bodily parts (as the hind foot of an ape or the pincers of a crab) that are like the hand in structure or function
2
: something resembling a hand: as
a
: a pointer on a dial
b
: a figure of a hand with index finger extended to point something out
c
: a bunch of bananas
3
: personal possession : control
in the hands of the enemy
4
a
: side entry 1 sense 2, direction
fighting on either hand
b
: a side or point of view in an issue or argument
on the one hand, we can declare a tie, or on the other hand, keep playing
5
: a pledge especially of marriage
asked for her hand
6
7
: skill sense 1, ability
try one's hand at chess
8
a
: assistance or help involving physical effort
lend a hand
b
: a part or share in doing something
take a hand in the work
9
: a unit of measure equal to 4 inches (about 10.2 centimeters) used especially for the height of horses
10
: a round of applause
give him a hand
11
a
: the cards or pieces held by a player in a game
b
: a single round in a game
12
a
: one who performs or produces a work
two portraits by the same hand
b
: a hired worker
c
: a member of a ship's crew
all hands on deck
d
: one skilled in a particular activity or field
an old hand at foreign affairs
13
: workmanship sense 2
the hand of a master

hand

2 of 2 verb
1
: to guide or assist with the hand
2
: to give or pass with or as if with the hand
hand a person a letter

Medical Definition

hand

noun
often attributive
1
a(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

Biographical Definition

Hand

biographical name

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

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