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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hand-to-mouth
Historical Examples
  • What do you think people mean when they say that some one is living a “hand-to-mouth” life?

    The Later Cave-Men Katharine Elizabeth Dopp
  • hand-to-mouth is a bad principle when you have a growing child.'

    Grey Roses Henry Harland
  • hand-to-mouth legislation has always been the characteristic of our rule in South Africa.

  • 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
  • Their dialectic had corrupted theology; their hand-to-mouth utilitarianism had played havoc with traditional church-institutions.

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

    The Hills and the Vale Richard Jefferies
  • One reason for this is the hand-to-mouth manner in which the bulk of the people live, with no notion of thrift.

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

    The Wheel of Fortune Mahatma Gandhi
  • Ah, if only we had something better to expect than this hand-to-mouth existence!

    To Tell You the Truth Leonard Merrick
  • Without property life cannot rise above the hand-to-mouth existence of the savage.

    Practical Ethics William DeWitt Hyde
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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