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[bak-hand] /ˈbækˌhænd/
a stroke, slap, etc., made with the palm of the hand turned toward the body and the back of the hand turned in the direction of the stroke, slap, etc.
(in tennis, squash, etc.) a stroke made from the side of the body opposite to that of the hand holding the racket, paddle, etc.
handwriting that slopes toward the left.
(in tennis, squash, etc.) of, relating to, or noting a stroke made from the side of the body opposite to that of the hand holding the racket, paddle, etc.
Compare forehand (def 1).
with the back of the hand:
He hit him backhand across the face.
from across the body; backhanded:
She returned the ball backhand on the first serve.
verb (used with object)
to strike with the back of the hand.
to hit, produce, or accomplish with a backhand.
to catch (a ball or the like) backhanded.
Origin of backhand
First recorded in 1650-60; back2 + hand Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for backhand
Contemporary Examples
  • There are three full-time tennis aces on site who are more than happy to improve your backhand or perfect that serve.

    Gal With a Suitcase Jolie Hunt February 20, 2011
Historical Examples
  • It was a casual, backhand blow, but it almost caved in my chest.

    Backlash Winston Marks
  • With this backhand slap at the banker, the young man went out.

    The Heart of Canyon Pass Thomas K. Holmes
  • He grabbed his cup of steaming coffee, and threw it backhand into Gorton's face.

    Man of Many Minds E. Everett Evans
  • "F" indicates forehand, "B" backhand, and the "S" is the service.

    Squash Tennis Richard C. Squires
  • He will want in London a fellow who, in the character of the Highland turnkey, held the backhand (p. 250) to him admirably well.

  • The forehand and backhand ground strokes should be hit with a short, snap of the wrist—as though you were cracking a whip.

    Squash Tennis Richard C. Squires
  • Crosscourts:  To be mixed in with your straight up and down strokes are the crosscourt forehand and backhand shots.

    Squash Tennis Richard C. Squires
  • "Because I once saw Brown writing in backhand fashion on the blackboard in the gymnasium," explained Fred.

    The Rover Boys at Colby Hall Arthur M. Winfield
  • But he was equal to the emergency, and, to make the disguise perfect, he gave to his writing the left hand or backhand stroke.

    The Boy Broker Frank A. Munsey
British Dictionary definitions for backhand


  1. a stroke made across the body with the back of the hand facing the direction of the stroke
  2. (as modifier): a backhand return
the side on which backhand strokes are made
handwriting slanting to the left
with a backhand stroke
verb (transitive)
(sport) to play (a shot) backhand
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for backhand

as a tennis stroke, 1650s, from back (adv.) + hand. As a verb, by 1935. The figurative adjectival sense of "indirect" is from c.1800. Related: Backhanded; backhanding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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