General Science

  • adjective carried out by someone without the help of a machine
  • noun a document or book containing instructions for doing something, especially carrying out a procedure or operating a machine


Cars & Driving

  • noun a car with a manual gearbox


  • adjective done by hand or done using the hands
  • noun a book of instructions, showing what procedures to follow



  • A system of controls that can be operated by hand.


  • Operated or performed by hand, or any other mechanism or procedure which is not automatic. For example, manual tuning, or manual input.
  • Operated by, or requiring the use of hands. For example, a hand generator, or a hand receiver. Also called hand-operated.
  • A reference document, book, file, or the like which contains information on the uses and applications of a given device, piece of equipment, system, and so on.

Information & Library Science

  • adjective done by hand rather than by machine
  • noun a document or book containing instructions about the operation of a system or machine


  • noun a book which explains the organisation and procedures of the Houses of Congress

Origin & History of “manual”

The Latin word for ‘hand’ was manus (it came from an Indo-European base *mən-, and its modern descendants include French main, Italian and Spanish mano, and Romanian mîna). It has contributed generously to English vocabulary, and manual (from the Latin adjective manuālis) is among its least heavily disguised derivatives. Others include amanuensis (17th c.) (from the Latin phrase servus ā manū ‘servant at hand(writing)’, hence ‘secretary’); emancipate; manacle (14th c.) (from Latin manicula ‘little hand’); manage; mandate (and its relatives command, demand, etc); manicure (19th c.); manifest; manipulate (19th c.) (from Latin manipulus ‘handful’); manner; manoeuvre; manufacture (16th c.) (ultimately from Latin manū factum ‘made by hand’); manure; manuscript (16th c.) (in Latin literally ‘written by hand’); mastiff; and possibly masturbate (17th c.), which comes from Latin masturbārī, perhaps a lexicalization of the phrase manū stuprāre ‘defile with the hand’.