Hand (hănd), n. [AS.
hand, hond; akin to D., G., & Sw. hand, OHG.
hant, Dan. haand, Icel. hönd, Goth.
handus, and perh. to Goth. hinþan 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
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
3. A measure equal to a hand's breadth, --
four inches; a palm. Chiefly used in measuring the height of
4. Side; part; direction, either right or
On this hand and that hand, were
hangings. Ex. xxxviii. 15.
The Protestants were then on the winning
5. Power of performance; means of execution;
ability; skill; dexterity.
He had a great mind to try his hand at a
6. Actual performance; deed; act;
workmanship; agency; hence, manner of performance.
To change the hand in carrying on the
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
I was always reckoned a lively hand at a
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.
Some writs require a judge's hand.
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 government 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."
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
13. (Firearms) The small part of a
gunstock near the lock, which is grasped by the hand in taking
☞ 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.
12.(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 bag, a satchel; a small bag for
carrying books, papers, parcels, etc. -- Hand
basket, a small or portable basket. --
Hand bell, a small bell rung by the hand; a
table bell. Bacon. -- Hand bill, a
small pruning hook. See 4th Bill. -- Hand
car. See under Car. -- Hand
director (Mus.), an instrument to aid in forming
a good position of the hands and arms when playing on the piano; a
hand guide. -- Hand drop. See Wrist
drop. -- Hand gallop. See under
Gallop. -- Hand gear (Mach.),
apparatus by means of which a machine, or parts of a machine,
usually operated by other power, may be operated by hand. --
Hand glass. (a) A glass or
small glazed frame, for the protection of plants.
(b) A small mirror with a handle. --
Hand guide. Same as Hand director
(above). -- Hand language, the art of
conversing by the hands, esp. as practiced by the deaf and dumb;
dactylology. -- Hand lathe. See under
Lathe. -- Hand money, money paid in
hand to bind a contract; earnest money. -- Hand
organ (Mus.), a barrel organ, operated by a
crank turned by hand. -- Hand plant.
(Bot.) Same as Hand tree (below). -- Hand
rail, a rail, as in staircases, to hold by. Gwilt. --
Hand sail, a sail managed by the hand.
Sir W. Temple. -- Hand screen, a small
screen to be held in the hand. -- Hand screw,
a small jack for raising heavy timbers or weights;
(Carp.) a screw clamp. -- Hand
staff (pl. Hand staves), a
javelin. Ezek. xxxix. 9. -- Hand stamp,
a small stamp for dating, addressing, or canceling papers,
envelopes, etc. -- Hand tree (Bot.),
a lofty tree found in Mexico (Cheirostemon platanoides),
having red flowers whose stamens unite in the form of a hand. --
Hand vise, a small vise held in the hand in
doing small work. Moxon. -- Hand work,
or Handwork, work done with the hands, as
distinguished from work done by a machine; handiwork. --
All hands, everybody; all parties. --
At all hands, On all hands,
on all sides; from every direction; generally. -- At
any hand, At no hand, in any (or no)
way or direction; on any account; on no account. "And therefore
at no hand consisting with the safety and interests of
humility." Jer. Taylor. -- At first hand,
At second hand. See def. 10 (above). --
At hand. (a) Near in time or
place; either present and within reach, or not far distant.
"Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet." Shak.
(b) Under the hand or bridle. [Obs.] "Horses
hot at hand." Shak. -- At the hand
of, by the act of; as a gift from. "Shall we
receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive
evil?" Job ii. 10. -- Bridle hand. See
under Bridle. -- By hand, with the
hands, in distinction from instrumentality of tools, engines, or
animals; as, to weed a garden by hand; to lift, draw, or carry
by hand. -- Clean hands, freedom
from guilt, esp. from the guilt of dishonesty in money matters, or of
bribe taking. "He that hath clean hands shall be stronger
and stronger." Job xvii. 9. -- From hand to
hand, from one person to another. -- Hand
in hand. (a) In union; conjointly;
unitedly. Swift. (b) Just; fair;
As fair and as good, a kind of hand in hand
-- Hand over hand, Hand over
fist, by passing the hands alternately one before or
above another; as, to climb hand over hand; also, rapidly; as,
to come up with a chase hand over hand. -- Hand
over head, negligently; rashly; without seeing what one
does. [Obs.] Bacon. -- Hand running,
consecutively; as, he won ten times hand running. --
Hands off! keep off! forbear! no interference
or meddling! -- Hand to hand, in close
union; in close fight; as, a hand to hand contest.
Dryden. -- Heavy hand, severity or
oppression. -- In hand. (a)
Paid down. "A considerable reward in hand, and . . .
a far greater reward hereafter." Tillotson.
(b) In preparation; taking place.
Chaucer. "Revels . . . in hand." Shak.
(c) Under consideration, or in the course of
transaction; as, he has the business in hand. --
In one's hand or hands.
(a) In one's possession or keeping.
(b) At one's risk, or peril; as, I took my life
in my hand. -- Laying on of hands,
a form used in consecrating to office, in the rite of
confirmation, and in blessing persons. -- Light
hand, gentleness; moderation. -- Note of
hand, a promissory note. -- Off
hand, Out of hand, forthwith; without
delay, hesitation, or difficulty; promptly. "She causeth them to
be hanged up out of hand." Spenser. -- Off
one's hands, out of one's possession or care. --
On hand, in present possession; as, he has a
supply of goods on hand. -- On one's
hands, in one's possession care, or management. --
Putting the hand under the thigh, an ancient
Jewish ceremony used in swearing. -- Right
hand, the place of honor, power, and strength. --
Slack hand, idleness; carelessness;
inefficiency; sloth. -- Strict hand,
severe discipline; rigorous government. -- To bear a
hand (Naut.), to give help quickly; to
hasten. -- To bear in hand, to keep in
expectation with false pretenses. [Obs.] Shak. --
To be hand and glove, or
in glove, with. See under
Glove. -- To be on the mending hand,
to be convalescent or improving. -- To bring up by
hand, to feed (an infant) without suckling it. --
To change hand. See Change. --
To change hands, to change sides, or change
owners. Hudibras. -- To clap the hands,
to express joy or applause, as by striking the palms of the hands
together. -- To come to hand, to be
received; to be taken into possession; as, the letter came to
hand yesterday. -- To get hand, to
gain influence. [Obs.]
Appetites have . . . got such a hand over
-- To get one's hand in, to make a beginning
in a certain work; to become accustomed to a particular
business. -- To have a hand in, to be
concerned in; to have a part or concern in doing; to have an agency
or be employed in. -- To have in hand.
(a) To have in one's power or control.
Chaucer. (b) To be engaged upon or
occupied with. -- To have one's hands full,
to have in hand all that one can do, or more than can be done
conveniently; to be pressed with labor or engagements; to be
surrounded with difficulties. -- To
have, or get, the (higher) upper
hand, to have, or get, the better of another person or
thing. -- To his hand, To my
hand, etc., in readiness; already prepared. "The
work is made to his hands." Locke. -- To hold
hand, to compete successfully or on even
conditions. [Obs.] Shak. -- To lay hands
on, to seize; to assault. -- To lend a
hand, to give assistance. -- To
lift, or put forth, the hand
against, to attack; to oppose; to kill. --
To live from hand to mouth, to obtain food and
other necessaries as want compels, without previous provision. -
- To make one's hand, to gain advantage or
profit. -- To put the hand unto, to
steal. Ex. xxii. 8.-- To put the
last, or finishing, hand to,
to make the last corrections in; to complete; to perfect. --
To set the hand to, to engage in; to
That the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou
settest thine hand to. Deut. xxiii.
-- To stand one in hand, to concern or affect
one. -- To strike hands, to make a
contract, or to become surety for another's debt or good
behavior. -- To take in hand.
(a) To attempt or undertake.
(b) To seize and deal with; as, he took
him in hand. -- To wash the hands of,
to disclaim or renounce interest in, or responsibility for, a
person or action; as, to wash one's hands of a business.
Matt. xxvii. 24. -- Under the hand of,
authenticated by the handwriting or signature of; as, the deed is
executed under the hand and seal of the owner.