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[hand-tuh-mouth] /ˈhænd təˈmaʊθ/
offering or providing the barest livelihood, sustenance, or support; meager; precarious:
a hand-to-mouth existence.
Origin of hand-to-mouth
First recorded in 1500-10 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hand-to-mouth
Historical Examples
  • Ah, if only we had something better to expect than this hand-to-mouth existence!

    To Tell You the Truth Leonard Merrick
  • Yes, by my pen will I live; if it is a hand-to-mouth existence, it is at least free.

    Mohawks, Volume 1 of 3 Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • They are all hand-to-mouth working men: they live by the job when they can get any.

  • But this nomadic, hand-to-mouth life could not go on indefinitely.

  • hand-to-mouth is a bad principle when you have a growing child.'

    Grey Roses

    Henry Harland
  • There followed three similar years of a hand-to-mouth existence, the privations of which he endured in silence.

    David Dunne

    Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • He must get some of the hated skits ready for the Sunday paper from which he drew a hand-to-mouth living.

    The Hills of Desire Richard Aumerle Maher
  • The Cato Street conspirators gave Cruikshank hand-to-mouth work.

  • He has a hand-to-mouth, nomad existence, ending in the inevitable frozen misery of the workhouse.

    The Hills and the Vale Richard Jefferies
  • The people are rooted to the soil, and the vast majority are living a hand-to-mouth life.

    The Wheel of Fortune Mahatma Gandhi
British Dictionary definitions for hand-to-mouth


adjective, adverb
with barely enough money or food to satisfy immediate needs: a hand-to-mouth existence
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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