Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

hand - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     hand pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] the part of your body at the end of each arm that you use for picking up and holding things

    Mrs. Bennet put her hands over her ears to shut out the noise.

    have/hold something in your hand:

    He was holding a cup of coffee in his left hand.

    hold someone’s hand:

    He sat by the bed and held her hand.

    take someone by the hand:

    George took her by the hand and helped her out of the car.

    hold hands (=hold each other’s hands):

    The park was full of young couples holding hands.

    hand in hand (=holding each other’s hand):

    They walked along the cliff top hand in hand.

    shake hands:

    The two men introduced themselves and shook hands.

  2. 2
    [singular] help
    give someone a hand (=help someone):

    Can you give me a hand with these boxes?

    like/want/need a hand:

    Do you need a hand with the dusting?

    lend a hand (=help):

    Lydia said she would lend a hand (=help) with the costumes.

    Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    [singular] if people give someone a hand, they clap their hands to show that they have enjoyed a performance
    a big hand for someone:

    A big hand for the band, ladies and gentlemen!

    give someone a big hand:

    Let’s give the children a big hand.

  4. 4
    [countable] the hands on a clock are the long parts that move around and show the time
  5. 5
    [countable] the particular set of cards that have been given to you in a game of cards
  6. 6
    [singular] informal the advantages you have that give you a chance to be successful in a particular situation
    play your hand (=use your advantages):

    Everything depends on how the company plays its hand.

    See also show
  7. 8
    [countable] mainly literary someone’s handwriting
  8. 9
    [countable] a unit for measuring how tall a horse is
quiz invitation
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a combination of a hotdog and a hamburger in a specially designed bread bun

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a volume of articles, essays, etc., contributed by many authors in honor of a colleague, usually published on the occasion of their retirement, an important anniversary and the like

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play