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hand Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun the (prehensile) extremity of the superior limb
    mitt; paw; manus.
    • he had the hands of a surgeon
    • he extended his mitt
  2. noun a hired laborer on a farm or ranch
    hired hand; hired man.
    • the hired hand fixed the railing
    • a ranch hand
  3. noun something written by hand
    handwriting; script.
    • she recognized his handwriting
    • his hand was illegible
  4. noun ability
    • he wanted to try his hand at singing
  5. noun a position given by its location to the side of an object
    • objections were voiced on every hand
  6. noun the cards held in a card game by a given player at any given time
    • I didn't hold a good hand all evening
    • he kept trying to see my hand
  7. noun one of two sides of an issue
    • on the one hand..., but on the other hand...
  8. noun a rotating pointer on the face of a timepiece
    • the big hand counts the minutes
  9. noun a unit of length equal to 4 inches; used in measuring horses
    • the horse stood 20 hands
  10. noun a member of the crew of a ship
    • all hands on deck
  11. noun a card player in a game of bridge
    bridge player.
    • we need a 4th hand for bridge
  12. noun a round of applause to signify approval
    • give the little lady a great big hand
  13. noun terminal part of the forelimb in certain vertebrates (e.g. apes or kangaroos)
    • the kangaroo's forearms seem undeveloped but the powerful five-fingered hands are skilled at feinting and clouting"- Springfield (Mass.) Union
  14. noun physical assistance
    helping hand.
    • give me a hand with the chores
  15. verb place into the hands or custody of
    give; turn over; reach; pass; pass on.
    • hand me the spoon, please
    • Turn the files over to me, please
    • He turned over the prisoner to his lawyers
  16. verb guide or conduct or usher somewhere
    • hand the elderly lady into the taxi

Hand noun
AS. hand, hond; akin to D., G., & Sw. hand, OHG. hant, Dan. haand, Icel. hönd, Goth. handus, and perh. to Goth. hinpan to seize (in comp.). Cf. Hunt.
  1. That part of the fore limb below the forearm or wrist in man and monkeys, and the corresponding part in many other animals; manus; paw. See Manus.
  2. That which resembles, or to some extent performs the office of, a human hand; as: (a) A limb of certain animals, as the foot of a hawk, or any one of the four extremities of a monkey. (b) An index or pointer on a dial; as, the hour or minute hand of a clock.
  3. A measure equal to a hand's breadth, -- four inches; a palm. Chiefly used in measuring the height of horses.
  4. Side; part; direction, either right or left.
    On this hand and that hand, were hangings. Ex. xxxviii. 15.
    The Protestants were then on the winning hand. Milton.
  5. Power of performance; means of execution; ability; skill; dexterity.
    He had a great mind to try his hand at a Spectator. Addison.
  6. Actual performance; deed; act; workmanship; agency; hence, manner of performance.
    To change the hand in carrying on the war. Clarendon.
    Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by my hand. Judges vi. 36.
  7. An agent; a servant, or laborer; a workman, trained or competent for special service or duty; a performer more or less skillful; as, a deck hand; a farm hand; an old hand at speaking.
    A dictionary containing a natural history requires too many hands, as well as too much time, ever to be hoped for. Locke.
    I was always reckoned a lively hand at a simile. Hazlitt.
  8. Handwriting; style of penmanship; as, a good, bad or running hand. Hence, a signature.
    I say she never did invent this letter; This is a man's invention and his hand. Shak.
    Some writs require a judge's hand. Burril.
  9. Personal possession; ownership; hence, control; direction; management; -- usually in the plural. "Receiving in hand one year's tribute." Knolles.
    Albinus . . . found means to keep in his hands the goverment of Britain. Milton.
  10. Agency in transmission from one person to another; as, to buy at first hand, that is, from the producer, or when new; at second hand, that is, when no longer in the producer's hand, or when not new.
  11. Rate; price. Obs. "Business is bought at a dear hand, where there is small dispatch." Bacon.
  12. That which is, or may be, held in a hand at once; as: (a) (Card Playing) The quota of cards received from the dealer. (b) (Tobacco Manuf.) A bundle of tobacco leaves tied together.
  13. (Firearms) The small part of a gunstock near the lock, which is grasped by the hand in taking aim. Hand is used figuratively for a large variety of acts or things, in the doing, or making, or use of which the hand is in some way employed or concerned; also, as a symbol to denote various qualities or conditions, as: (a) Activity; operation; work; -- in distinction from the head, which implies thought, and the heart, which implies affection. "His hand will be against every man." Gen. xvi. 13.(b) Power; might; supremacy; -- often in the Scriptures. "With a mighty hand . . . will I rule over you." Ezek. xx. 33.(c) Fraternal feeling; as, to give, or take, the hand; to give the right hand. (d) Contract; -- commonly of marriage; as, to ask the hand; to pledge the hand. Hand is often used adjectively or in compounds (with or without the hyphen), signifying performed by the hand; as, hand blow or hand-blow, hand gripe or hand-gripe: used by, or designed for, the hand; as, hand ball or handball, hand bow, hand fetter, hand grenade or hand-grenade, handgun or hand gun, handloom or hand loom, handmill or hand organ or handorgan, handsaw or hand saw, hand-weapon: measured or regulated by the hand; as, handbreadth or hand's breadth, hand gallop or hand-gallop. Most of the words in the following paragraph are written either as two words or in combination.
Hand transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Handed; present participle & verbal noun Handing
  1. To give, pass, or transmit with the hand; as, he handed them the letter.
  2. To lead, guide, or assist with the hand; to conduct; as, to hand a lady into a carriage.
  3. To manage; as, I hand my oar. Obs. Prior.
  4. To seize; to lay hands on. Obs. Shak.
  5. To pledge by the hand; to handfast. R.
  6. (Naut.) To furl; -- said of a sail. Totten.
Hand intransitive verb
  1. To coöperate. Obs. Massinger.
Hand intransitive verb
  1. To be suspended or fastened to some elevated point without support from below; to dangle; to float; to rest; to remain; to stay.
  2. To be fastened in such a manner as to allow of free motion on the point or points of suspension.
  3. To die or be put to death by suspension from the neck. R. "Sir Balaam hangs." Pope.
  4. To hold for support; to depend; to cling; -- usually with on or upon; as, this question hangs on a single point. "Two infants hanging on her neck." Peacham.
  5. To be, or be like, a suspended weight.
    Life hangs upon me, and becomes a burden. Addison.
  6. To hover; to impend; to appear threateningly; -- usually with over; as, evils hang over the country.
  7. To lean or incline; to incline downward.
    To decide which way hung the victory. Milton.
    His neck obliquely o'er his shoulder hung. Pope.
  8. To slope down; as, hanging grounds.
  9. To be undetermined or uncertain; to be in suspense; to linger; to be delayed.
    A noble stroke he lifted high, Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell On the proud crest of Satan. Milton.

Webster 1913