1. at close quarters
; - Example: "fought hand to hand"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Hand \Hand\ (h[a^]nd), n. [AS. hand, hond; akin to D., G., & Sw.
hand, OHG. hant, Dan. haand, Icel. h["o]nd, Goth. handus, and
perh. to Goth. hin[thorn]an 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 Manus.
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 clock.
3. A measure equal to a hand's breadth, -- four inches; a
palm. Chiefly used in measuring the height of horses.
4. Side; part; direction, either right or left.
On this hand and that hand, were hangings. --Ex.
The Protestants were then on the winning hand.
5. Power of performance; means of execution; ability; skill;
He had a great mind to try his hand at a Spectator.
6. Actual performance; deed; act; workmanship; agency; hence,
manner of performance.
To change the hand in carrying on the war.
Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by my
hand. --Judges vi.
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
A dictionary containing a natural history requires
too many hands, as well as too much time, ever to be
hoped for. --Locke.
I was always reckoned a lively hand at a simile.
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. --Shak.
Some writs require a judge's hand. --Burril.
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." --Bacon.
12. That which is, or may be, held in a hand at once; as:
(a) (Card Playing) The quota of cards received from the
(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 aim.
Note: 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.
Note: 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
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.
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.
(a) A glass or small glazed frame, for the protection of
(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
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.
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
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
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."
At first hand, At second hand. See def. 10 (above).
(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
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
From hand to hand, from one person to another.
Hand in hand.
(a) In union; conjointly; unitedly. --Swift.
(b) Just; fair; equitable.
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
Hand over head, negligently; rashly; without seeing what
one does. [Obs.] --Bacon.
Hand running, consecutively; as, he won ten times hand
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.
(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 In one's hands.
(a) In one's possession or keeping.
(b) At one's risk, or peril; as, I took my life in my
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 with or To be hand 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
To change hand. See Change.
To change hands, to change sides, or change owners.
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 them.
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
To have the (higher) upper hand, or To get the (higher)
upper hand, to have, or get, the better of another person or
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 the hand against, or To 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 hand to or To put the finishing hand to,
to make the last corrections in; to complete; to perfect.
To set the hand to, to engage in; to undertake.
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.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
hand to hand
adv 1: at close quarters; "fought hand to hand"