a. The terminal part of the human arm located below the forearm, used for grasping and holding and consisting of the wrist, palm, four fingers, and an opposable thumb.
b. A homologous or similar part in other animals, as the terminal part of the forelimb in certain vertebrates.
2. A unit of length equal to 4 inches (10.2 centimeters), used especially to specify the height of a horse.
3. Something suggesting the shape or function of the human hand, especially:
a. Any of the rotating pointers used as indexes on the face of a mechanical clock.
b. A pointer, as on a gauge or dial.
4. Printing See index.
5. Lateral direction indicated according to the way in which one is facing: at my right hand.
a. A style or individual sample of writing.
b. A signature: put my hand to the contract.
7. A round of applause to signify approval.
8. Physical assistance; help: gave me a hand with the bags.
9. hands Sports A hand ball in soccer.
a. The cards held in a card game by a given player at any time.
b. The number of cards dealt each player; the deal.
c. A player or participant in a card game: We need a fourth hand for bridge.
d. A portion or section of a game during which all the cards dealt out are played: a hand of poker.
a. One who performs manual labor: a factory hand.
b. One who is part of a group or crew: the ship's hands.
12. A participant in an activity, often one who specializes in a particular activity or pursuit: an old hand at labor negotiations.
a. The degree of immediacy of a source of information; degree of reliability: heard the scandalous tale at third hand.
b. The strength or force of one's position: negotiated from a strong hand.
a. often hands Possession, ownership, or keeping: The books should be in your hands by noon.
b. Power; jurisdiction; care: The defendant's fate is in the hands of the jury. Dinner is in the chef's hands.
a. Involvement or participation: "In all this was evident the hand of the counterrevolutionaries" (John Reed).
b. An influence or effect: The manager had a hand in all major decisions.
c. Evidence of craft or artistic skill: can see the hand of a genius even in the lighter poems.
16. An aptitude or ability: I tried my hand at decorating.
17. The aesthetic feel or tactile quality of something, such as a fabric, textile, or carpeting, that indicates its fineness, texture, and durability.
18. A manner or way of performing something: a light hand with makeup.
a. Permission or a promise, especially a pledge to wed.
b. A commitment or agreement, especially when sealed by a handshake; one's word: You have my hand on that.
v. hand·ed, hand·ing, hands
1. To give or pass with or as if with the hands; transmit: Hand me your keys.
2. To aid, direct, or conduct with the hands: The usher handed the patron to a reserved seat.
3. Nautical To roll up and secure (a sail); furl.
a. To give (the ball) directly to a teammate, as in football. Often used with off.
b. To carry, strike, or propel (the ball) with the hand or arm in violation of the rules in soccer.
To make a handoff, as in football. Often used with off.
1. To bequeath to one's heirs.
2. To make and pronounce (an official decision, especially a court verdict).
To turn over to another.
1. To distribute freely; disseminate.
2. To administer or deal out.
To release or relinquish to another.
To deliver (an indictment) to a higher judicial authority.
1. Close by; near.
2. Soon in time; imminent: Retribution is at hand.
3. Under discussion: Let's keep to the matter at hand.
at the hand/hands of
By or through the agency of: favors he received at the hands of his uncle.
By using the hands; manually.
get/lay (one's) hands on
To get possession of; acquire or obtain.
hand and foot
With concerted, never-ending effort:had to wait on them hand and foot.
hand in/and glove
On intimate terms or in close association: "The folklore of American academia says that publishing and teaching go hand in glove" (Edward B. Fiske).
hand in hand
In cooperation; jointly.
hand it to Informal
To give credit to: You've got to hand it to her; she knows what she's doing.
hand over fist
At a tremendous rate: made money hand over fist.
1. With no trouble; easily.
2. Indisputably; unquestionably.
1. In one's possession: arrived with the contract in hand.
2. Under control: kept the tense situation in hand.
3. Under consideration: gave her attention to the matter in hand.
4. In preparation or process: With the work finally in hand, we began to see progress.
5. Sports Remaining to be played by one team but not by another: Their team is ahead in the standings, but our team has two games in hand.
off (one's) hands
No longer under one's jurisdiction, within one's responsibility, or in one's care: We finally got that project off our hands.
1. Present; available: Are there enough people on hand to hold a meeting?
2. About to happen; imminent: What is on hand for this evening?
on/upon (one's) hands
In one's possession, often as an imposed responsibility or burden: Now they have the grandchildren on their hands.
on one/the one hand
As one point of view; from one standpoint.
on the other hand
As another point of view; from another standpoint.
out of hand
1. Out of control: Employee absenteeism has gotten out of hand.
2. Without consideration; immediately: dismissed my complaint out of hand.
2. In one's possession.
[Middle English, from Old English.]
(click for a larger image)hand
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.