General English

  • noun the part of the body at the end of each arm, which you use for holding things
  • noun one of the two long parts on a clock which move round and show the time. The minute hand is longer than the hour hand.
  • verb to pass something to someone


  • noun a measure used to show the height of a horse. One hand is 10.16cm, and the measurement is taken from the ground to the withers of the horse.


  • Prefaced by "left" or "right" to designate how a door is hinged and the direction it opens.
  • Preceded by "left" or "right" to designate the direction of turn one encounters when descending a spiral stair, with "right-hand" being clockwise.


  • noun a member of a team; a player
    Citation ‘The second match between London and Kingston & Moulsey … the country lost five of their best hands that played on Moulsey Hurst, but notwithstanding all that, the Country won their match by 3 notches’ (London & Country Journal 25 July 1739)
  • noun an innings
    Citation ‘There were several very considerable wagers laid of the first hands which were won by the London gamesters by one notch’ (St James’s Evening Post 29 June 1732)
    Citation ‘Umpires … to allow Two Minutes for each Man to come inn when one is out, and Ten Minutes between each Hand’ (Laws 1744)
  • noun the score made by an individual or team in an innings
    Citation ‘Andrew [Freemantle] … would often get long hands, and against the best bowling too’ (Nyren 1833 in HM)


  • A device, tool, or gripping mechanism attached to the wrist of a robot arm. It can be, for example, a drill, a sensor, or a gripper with the ability to move with six degrees of freedom. Also called end-effector, or robot end-effector.


  • hand and spring of pork
  • (written as Hand)


  • noun the part at the end of the arm, beyond the wrist, which is used for holding things


  • noun any member of a ship’s crew


  • noun a printed sign indicating a reference or the beginning of a paragraph

Origin & History of “hand”

Hand is a widespread Germanic word (German, Dutch, and Swedish also have it), but it has no relatives outside Germanic, and no one is too sure where it comes from. perhaps the likeliest explanation is that it is related to Gothic frahinthan ‘seize, pursue’, Swedish hinna ‘reach’, and English hunt, and that is underlying meaning is ‘body part used for seizing’.

The derived adjective handsome (15th c.) originally meant simply ‘easy to handle’. The modern sense ‘attractive’ did not develop until the late 16th century.