Language: Old English


1 noun
hand1 S1 W1

part of body

[countable]HBH the part of your body at the end of your arm, including your fingers and thumb, that you use to hold thingsCOLLOCATIONS COLLOCATIONS
somebody's left/right hand in somebody's hand the palm of your hand (=the inside surface of your hand) the back of your hand (=the outside surface of your hand) wave your hand clap your hands hold hands (with somebody) shake somebody's hand also shake hands (with somebody) (=as a greeting) take somebody by the hand (=hold someone's hand in order to take them somewhere) join hands (=take hold of someone's hand, for example in a dance) clasp your hands (=hold them together tightly) fold your hands (=put them together and rest them on something) raise your hand also put your hand up British English (=lift your hand in the air, especially to show that you want to answer or ask a question) on (your) hands and knees (=in a crawling position) with your bare hands (=without using a tool, weapon, machine etc)
Go wash your hands.
Steve gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands.
He held the pencil in his right hand.
In her hand was a tattered old photograph.
a small book, no bigger than the palm of my hand
She waved her hand to the crowd.
They were laughing and cheering and clapping their hands.
The young couple were holding hands.
The two leaders shook hands.
Marika took the child by the hand and led her away.
They all joined hands in a big circle.
Sally sat with her hands folded in her lap.
Raise your hand if you know the answer.
I had to get down on my hands and knees and look under the settee.
He was capable of killing a man with his bare hands .


a hand

help with something - used in the following phrases
need/want a hand
Do you need a hand packing?
give/lend (somebody) a hand
Can you give me a hand to lift this?
If you get stuck, Denise is always willing to lend a hand.
I could do with a hand/use a hand (=it would be useful to have some help)
We could certainly do with a hand.

➔ a helping hand

at help1 (9)
see usage note help1


[singular, uncountable] control, power, or influence that someone has:
The President has strengthened the hand of the gun lobby.
This matter is too important to be left in the hands of (=in the control of) an inexperienced lawyer.
a manager with a firm hand (=who controls things strictly)

get out of hand

if a situation or person gets out of hand, they become impossible to control any longer:
The demonstration was getting out of hand.

on the other hand

also on the one hand. .. on the other hand used to give another opinion or fact that should be considered as well as the one you have just given:
I'd like to eat out, but on the other hand I should be trying to save money.
! Do not say 'on one hand'. Say on the one hand.

hands off

spoken used to say that someone cannot have, take, or touch something:
Hey! Hands off that CD! It's mine!
Tell your little brother to keep his hands off my car.

in hand

a) if something is in hand, it is being done or dealt with:
Plans are in hand to perform 'Oz' next semester.
Lisa seemed to have things in hand by the time he returned.
job/task/matter etc in hand
Our officers have to concentrate 100 per cent on the task in hand.
take somebody in hand (=begin to deal with someone's problems etc)
b) British English if you work a week, a month etc in hand, you do not get paid until after you have worked two weeks, two months etc
c) British English if you have time, money etc in hand, you have it available
I usually have a few days' leave in hand at the end of the year.
d) British English if a team or player has a game in hand in a competition, they still have another game to play in which they could gain more points

in the hands of somebody/in somebody's hands

being dealt with or cared for by someone:
The matter is in the hands of the police.
in good/safe/capable etc hands
You can be sure your children are in good hands.
The fear is that nuclear secrets could fall into the wrong hands.
! Do not say 'in the hand of' someone. Say in the hands of someone.

➔ a safe pair of hands

at safe1 (11)

hands up

a) with your arms straight up in the air - used especially to tell someone to do this as a sign that they will not attack you:
Hands up! You're under arrest!
The men emerged from the building with their hands up.
b) used to tell people to put their arm straight up in the air if they know the answer to a question or want to say something:
Hands up if you agree with what Eric was saying.

at hand

a) likely to happen soon:
Recent economic performance suggests that a major crisis is at hand.
b) close to you and available to be used
Don't worry, help is at hand!
c) needing to be dealt with now:
Peter turned his attention to the task at hand.

to hand

British English something that is to hand is close to you, so that you can reach it easily

on hand

close by and ready when needed:
Our staff are always on hand to help.

by hand

a) done or made by a person rather than a machine:
We had to wash our clothes by hand.
b) delivered by someone personally, rather than being sent through the post, emailed etc

(at) first hand

if you know or experience something first hand, you have personal experience of it:
a chance to view at first hand the workings of the court

(at) second/third/fourth hand

if you know something second, third etc hand, someone tells you about it, but you have no personal experience of it:
Until now, information has been second or third hand, but this news comes from someone who was there.

at the hands of somebody

caused or done by a particular person - used about something bad or unpleasant that someone does:
Anyone who suffered at the hands of care workers will be entitled to compensation.
This is their third defeat at the hands of the world champions.

get your hands on something

informal to succeed in getting something:
She's only marrying him to get her hands on his money.

lay your hands on something

to find or get something:
I would read any book I could lay my hands on.

come to hand

if something comes to hand, it is there for you to use - used especially about something that is there by chance:
They ran, picking up whatever weapons came to hand.

get your hands on somebody

spoken to catch someone you are angry with:
Just wait till I get my hands on you!

have a hand in something

to influence or be involved in something:
He had a hand in both goals.

hand in hand


(go) hand in hand

if two things go hand in hand, they are closely connected:
Wealth and power go hand in hand in most societies.
(go) hand in hand with
They say that genius often goes hand in hand with madness.
b) if two people walk, stand etc hand in hand, they walk, stand etc while they are holding each other's hand:
They walked hand in hand in silence up the path.

have something/somebody on your hands

to have a difficult job, problem, situation etc to deal with:
I'm afraid we have a murder on our hands, Inspector.

be off your hands

if something or someone is off your hands, you are not responsible for them any more:
Once this problem is off our hands we can relax for a while.
take somebody/something off somebody's hands
She wants someone to take the kids off her hands occasionally.

try your hand at (doing) something

to try to do something you have not tried before:
John dreamed of being a writer and had tried his hand at poetry.

turn your hand to (doing) something

to do something well, even if it is the first time you have tried:
Larry's one of those men who can turn their hand to anything.

out of hand

without even stopping to consider what someone has suggested, asked for etc
reject/dismiss/refuse etc something out of hand
Aromatherapy was dismissed out of hand by traditional doctors.

hands down

win (something)/beat somebody hands down
Nigel always won hands down in any argument.

have your hands full

to be very busy or too busy:
Can't it wait? I already have my hands full.

good with your hands

skilful at making things

on either/every hand

written on both sides or in every direction:
Thick forest stood on either hand.

get your hands dirty

a) informal to do hard or dirty physical work - usually used in questions or negative statements:
It's not that the jobs aren't there, it's just that she doesn't want to get her hands dirty.
b) to get involved in the difficult, dishonest, or unpleasant side of something:
He never talked to the media or got his hands dirty in any way.

keep your hand in

to do something that you used to do a lot, so you do not forget how to do it:
You should at least work part-time, just to keep your hand in.

hand in glove

closely connected with someone, especially in an illegal activity:
Far from being independent, the government and media work hand in glove.

hand over fist

informal if you gain or lose something hand over fist, you gain or lose it very quickly:
Five years ago, the company was losing money hand over fist.

a big hand

spoken used to tell the people who are watching a performance to clap or cheer loudly:
Let's all give the girls a big hand.

all hands on deck

also all hands to the pumps British English informal used to say that everyone is needed to help in a particular situation:
With only half an hour to get everything ready, it was all hands on deck.

the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing

used to say that two parts of an organization that should be doing the same thing are each doing different things without the other knowing


[countable] someone who does physical work on a farm, factory, ship etc:
farm hands


a) DGC the playing cards given to one person in a game:
a winning hand
b) DGC a single game of cards


[countable]TMC a long thin piece of metal that points at the numbers on a clock


[singular] old-fashionedMP someone's handwriting

somebody's hands are tied

if someone's hands are tied, they cannot help in a particular situation because of rules, laws etc:
The bank claims its hands are tied by federal regulators.

tie/bind somebody hand and foot

a) to tie up someone's hands and feet
b) to make it very difficult or impossible for someone to do what they think is best

can do something with one hand (tied) behind your back

spoken used to say that you can do something very easily

not do a hand's turn

British English old-fashioned informal to do no work at all

somebody's hand (in marriage)

old-fashioned permission for a man to marry a particular woman:
He asked for her hand in marriage.


[countable]DSH a unit for measuring the height of a horse, equal to about 10 centimetres
cash-in-hand, freehand, hands-on, left-hand, right-hand

; ➔ be an old hand (at something)

at old (17)

; ➔ bite the hand that feeds you

at bite1 (15)

; ➔ have blood on your hands

at blood1 (2)

; ➔ have your hands/fingers in the till

at till2 (3)

; ➔ force somebody's hand

at force2 (7)

; ➔ overplay your hand

at overplay (2)

; ➔ shake somebody's hand/shake hands with somebody

at shake1 (4)

; ➔ wash your hands of something

at wash1 (5)

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