Meaning of HAND in English




( hands)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Please look at category 49 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.


Your hands are the parts of your body at the end of your arms. Each hand has four fingers and a thumb.

I put my hand into my pocket and pulled out the letter...

Sylvia, camera in hand, asked, ‘Where do we go first?’



The hand of someone or something is their influence in an event or situation.

The hand of the military authorities can be seen in the entire electoral process...

N-SING : with poss


If you say that something is in a particular person’s hands , you mean that they are looking after it, own it, or are responsible for it.

He is leaving his north London business in the hands of a colleague...

We’re in safe hands...

N-PLURAL : usu in/into N


If you ask someone for a hand with something, you are asking them to help you in what you are doing.

Come and give me a hand in the garden...

N-SING : a N , oft N with n


A hand is someone, usually a man, who does hard physical work, for example in a factory or on a farm, as part of a group of people who all do similar work.

He now works as a farm hand...

N-COUNT : usu with supp


If someone asks an audience to give someone a hand , they are asking the audience to clap loudly, usually before or after that person performs.

Let’s give ’em a big hand.

N-SING : a N


If a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage , he asks her or her parents for permission to marry her. ( OLD-FASHIONED )

He came to ask Usha’s father for her hand in marriage.

N-COUNT : usu sing , poss N , oft N in n


In a game of cards, your hand is the set of cards that you are holding in your hand at a particular time or the cards that are dealt to you at the beginning of the game.

He carefully inspected his hand.



A hand is a measurement of four inches, which is used for measuring the height of a horse from its front feet to its shoulders.

I had a very good 14.2 hands pony, called Brandy.

N-COUNT : usu num N


The hands of a clock or watch are the thin pieces of metal or plastic that indicate what time it is.



If something is at hand , near at hand , or close at hand , it is very near in place or time.

Having the right equipment at hand will be enormously helpful...

PHRASE : PHR after v , v-link PHR


If someone experiences a particular kind of treatment, especially unpleasant treatment, at the hands of a person or organization, they receive it from them.

The civilian population were suffering greatly at the hands of the security forces.



If you do something by hand , you do it using your hands rather than a machine.

Each pleat was stitched in place by hand.

= manually

PHRASE : PHR after v


When something changes hands , its ownership changes, usually because it is sold to someone else.

The firm has changed hands many times over the years.

PHRASE : V inflects


If you have someone eating out of your hand , they are completely under your control.

Parker could have customers eating out of his hand.

PHRASE : V and N inflect


If you force someone’s hand , you force them to act sooner than they want to, or to act in public when they would prefer to keep their actions secret.

He blamed the press for forcing his hand.

PHRASE : V and N inflect


If you have your hands full with something, you are very busy because of it.

She had her hands full with new arrivals.

PHRASE : V inflects , oft PHR with n


If someone gives you a free hand , they give you the freedom to use your own judgment and to do exactly as you wish.

He gave Stephanie a free hand in the decoration.

PHRASE : PHR after v


If you get your hands on something or lay your hands on something, you manage to find it or obtain it, usually after some difficulty. ( INFORMAL )

Patty began reading everything she could get her hands on.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n


If you work hand in glove with someone, you work very closely with them.

The UN inspectors work hand in glove with the Western intelligence agencies.

PHRASE : usu PHR with n


If two people are hand in hand , they are holding each other’s nearest hand, usually while they are walking or sitting together. People often do this to show their affection for each other.

I saw them making their way, hand in hand, down the path.

PHRASE : usu PHR after v , PHR with cl


If two things go hand in hand , they are closely connected and cannot be considered separately from each other.

For us, research and teaching go hand in hand...

PHRASE : usu PHR after v , v-link PHR , oft PHR with n


If you have a hand in something such as an event or activity, you are involved in it.

He thanked all who had a hand in his release.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n


If you say that someone such as the ruler of a country treats people with a heavy hand , you are criticizing them because they are very strict and severe with them.

Henry and Richard both ruled with a heavy hand.

PHRASE : usu with PHR [ disapproval ]


If two people are holding hands , they are holding each other’s nearest hand, usually while they are walking or sitting together. People often do this to show their affection for each other.

She approached a young couple holding hands on a bench.

PHRASE : V inflects , pl-n PHR , PHR with n


If you ask someone to hold your hand at an event that you are worried about, you ask them to support you by being there with you. ( INFORMAL )

I don’t need anyone to hold my hand.

PHRASE : V and N inflect


In a competition, if someone has games or matches in hand , they have more games or matches left to play than their opponent and therefore have the possibility of scoring more points. ( BRIT )

Wales are three points behind Romania in the group but have a game in hand.



If you have time or money in hand , you have more time or money than you need. ( BRIT )

Hughes finished with 15 seconds in hand.

PHRASE : usu with amount PHR


The job or problem in hand is the job or problem that you are dealing with at the moment.

The business in hand was approaching some kind of climax.

PHRASE : n PHR , v-link PHR


If a situation is in hand , it is under control.

The Olympic organisers say that matters are well in hand.

PHRASE : v-link PHR , PHR after v


If you lend someone a hand , you help them.

I’d be glad to lend a hand.

PHRASE : V inflects


If you tell someone to keep their hands off something or to take their hands off it, you are telling them in a rather aggressive way not to touch it or interfere with it.

Keep your hands off my milk.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n


If you do not know something off hand , you do not know it without having to ask someone else or look it up in a book. ( SPOKEN )

I can’t think of any off hand.

PHRASE : usu with brd-neg , PHR after v


If you have a problem or responsibility on your hands , you have to deal with it. If it is off your hands , you no longer have to deal with it.

They now have yet another drug problem on their hands...

She would like the worry of dealing with her affairs taken off her hands.

PHRASE : PHR after v


If someone or something is on hand , they are near and able to be used if they are needed.

The Bridal Department will have experts on hand to give you all the help and advice you need...

= available

PHRASE : PHR after v , v-link PHR


You use on the one hand to introduce the first of two contrasting points, facts, or ways of looking at something. It is always followed later by on the other hand or ‘on the other’.

On the one hand, if the body doesn’t have enough cholesterol, we would not be able to survive. On the other hand, if the body has too much cholesterol, the excess begins to line the arteries.

PHRASE : PHR with cl


You use on the other hand to introduce the second of two contrasting points, facts, or ways of looking at something.

Well, all right, hospitals lose money. But, on the other hand, if people are healthy, don’t think of it as losing money; think of it as saving lives.



If a person or a situation gets out of hand , you are no longer able to control them.

His drinking had got out of hand.

PHRASE : v-link PHR


If you dismiss or reject something out of hand , you do so immediately and do not consider believing or accepting it.

I initially dismissed the idea out of hand.

PHRASE : PHR after v


If you play into someone’s hands , you do something which they want you to do and which places you in their power. ( JOURNALISM )

He is playing into the hands of racists.

PHRASE : V inflects


If you show your hand , you show how much power you have and the way you intend to act.

He has grown more serious about running for president, although he refuses to show his hand.

PHRASE : V and N inflect


If you take something or someone in hand , you take control or responsibility over them, especially in order to improve them.

I hope that Parliament will soon take the NHS in hand...

PHRASE : V inflects


If you say that your hands are tied , you mean that something is preventing you from acting in the way that you want to.

Politicians are always saying that they want to help us but their hands are tied...

PHRASE : V inflects


If you have something to hand or near to hand , you have it with you or near you, ready to use when needed.

You may want to keep this brochure safe, so you have it to hand whenever you may need it.

PHRASE : PHR after v , v-link PHR


If you try your hand at an activity, you attempt to do it, usually for the first time.

After he left school, he tried his hand at a variety of jobs–bricklayer, cinema usher, coal man.

PHRASE : V and N inflect , usu PHR at n / -ing


If you turn your hand to something such as a practical activity, you learn about it and do it for the first time.

...a person who can turn his hand to anything.

PHRASE : V and N inflect , PHR n


If you wash your hands of someone or something, you refuse to be involved with them any more or to take responsibility for them.

He seems to have washed his hands of the job.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR n


If you win hands down , you win very easily.

PHRASE : V inflects


with one’s bare hands: see bare

to overplay one’s hand: see overplay

to shake someone’s hand: see shake

to shake hands: see shake

see also hand-to-mouth



( hands, handing, handed)

Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English.


If you hand something to someone, you pass it to them.

He handed me a little rectangle of white paper...

He took a thick envelope from an inside pocket and handed it to me.

VERB : V n n , V n to n


You say things such as ‘ You have to hand it to her ’ or ‘ You’ve got to hand it to them ’ when you admire someone for their skills or achievements and you think they deserve a lot of praise. ( INFORMAL )

You’ve got to hand it to Melissa, she certainly gets around.

PHRASE [ approval ]

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.