Origin of backhand

First recorded in 1650–60; back2 + hand
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for backhand

Contemporary Examples of backhand

  • There are three full-time tennis aces on site who are more than happy to improve your backhand or perfect that serve.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Gal With a Suitcase

    Jolie Hunt

    February 20, 2011

Historical Examples of backhand

  • It was a casual, backhand blow, but it almost caved in my chest.


    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.

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 (tr)

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

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