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

Definition of hand

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

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 3)

: with the hands rather than by machine hand stitched

Synonyms & Antonyms for hand

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The clear totes must be no larger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches and the small clutch or wallet must be roughly the size of a hand, or no larger than 4.5 by 6.5 inches. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 13 May 2022 The need for the legislation was tied to a 2018 Airbnb New Year’s Eve weekend party involving hundreds of people that got out of hand. John Benson, cleveland, 11 May 2022 MysteryVibe's Poco is shaped like a finger and fits in the palm of your hand to treat you to mind-blowing G-spot orgasms. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 10 May 2022 Its head and body both swivel and pivot with the movement of your hand or the curves of the head, and its finger-hold grip makes handling a breeze. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 9 May 2022 When things get out of hand, the answers will confront him from all sides that will take him for a steep 'rollercoaster' ride. Nick Romano, EW.com, 9 May 2022 That question has for years been dismissed out of hand. Paula Hancocks, CNN, 8 May 2022 Body camera footage released by the Brooklyn Center Police Department shows an officer taking the phone out of Wright's hand and appearing to grab her wrist. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 7 May 2022 Iki Kairi's naturalist, Shou Okubo, who's been with the property for 25 years and knows the island like the back of his hand. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Travel + Leisure, 7 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To ensure safety, police encourage residents to place their mail in the slots inside of the building or to hand their mail directly to a mail carrier. Olivia Mitchell, cleveland, 2 May 2022 Many companies struggle to make their licensed and subscribed technologies work together, relying on staff to manually combine the disparate data, hand keying it in from one source to another. Jonathan Cardella, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Two Rivers and Weird Sisters also sell everything from handmade ukuleles and art prints to inclusive books for all ages to hand dyed small-batch yarn for people at all craft levels. oregonlive, 30 Apr. 2022 In a recent interview with People magazine, a family law attorney based in Southern California explained that process servers are instructed to hand deliver legal and court documents directly to the recipient by any means necessary. Christi Carrasstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 Voters in 2014 amended New York’s constitution to hand redistricting to an independent commission, as well as to prohibit the drawing of lines for raw partisan ends. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 Hawaii Hilo turned the tables in the finale, beating PLNU 2-0 to hand the Sea Lions their second shutout of the season. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Apr. 2022 One strategy was to hand the Marni team handpaint each pattern; those appear on long dresses, rain-proof anoraks, and stripey trousers. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 22 Apr. 2022 French voters are expected to hand Emmanuel Macron five more years in office on Sunday, favoring the president over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen after a strong showing in a fierce debate. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: 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 The developments come a day after the managers hand-delivered the articles of impeachment, adopted by the House in December, to the Senate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signed them in a historic engrossment ceremony. NBC News, 16 Jan. 2020 One shop sold stuffed toys made to look hand-woven, as if a wry old local was out back sewing Ewok dolls. BostonGlobe.com, 13 Sep. 2019 His vision is carried on by three generations of his family who hand-pick grapes to make homemade wine. Verna Gates, al, 19 Sep. 2019 Food that’s healthy for people and healthy for the environment go hand-in-hand. Anne Schamberg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Oct. 2019 For the next election, all of L.A. County will be ditching the previous system where voters hand-marked ballots for a system where computers will aid in the marking process. Lila Seidman, Glendale News-Press, 3 Oct. 2019 Half the fun is perusing the lengthy cocktail list, designed to look hand-scrawled and presented in a small binder. Paul Hodgins, Daily Pilot, 25 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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

Learn More About hand

Time Traveler for hand

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near hand




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Statistics for hand

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hand. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hand


\ 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

Hand biographical name

\ ˈhand How to pronounce Hand (audio) \

Definition of Hand

(Billings) Learned 1872–1961 American jurist

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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