or hand·off

[hand-awf, -of]


  1. an offensive play in which a player, usually a back, hands the ball to a teammate.
  2. the ball itself during the execution of such a transfer: He fumbled the hand-off.
Aviation. the condition or period in which control or surveillance of an aircraft is transferred from one control center to another.

Nearby words

  1. hand-letter,
  2. hand-loomed,
  3. hand-made,
  4. hand-me-down,
  5. hand-me-up,
  6. hand-out,
  7. hand-pick,
  8. hand-picked,
  9. hand-piece,
  10. hand-ride

Origin of hand-off

First recorded in 1895–1900; noun use of verb phrase hand off




the terminal, prehensile part of the upper limb in humans and other primates, consisting of the wrist, metacarpal area, fingers, and thumb.
the corresponding part of the forelimb in any of the higher vertebrates.
a terminal prehensile part, as the chela of a crustacean, or, in falconry, the foot of a falcon.
something resembling a hand in shape or function, as various types of pointers: the hands of a clock.
a person employed in manual labor or for general duties; worker; laborer: a factory hand; a ranch hand.
a person who performs or is capable of performing a specific work, skill, or action: a real hand at geometry.
skill; workmanship; characteristic touch: a painting that shows a master's hand.
a person, with reference to ability or skill: He was a poor hand at running a business.
a member of a ship's crew: All hands on deck!
Often hands. possession or power; control, custody, or care: to have someone's fate in one's hands.
a position, especially one of control, used for bargaining, negotiating, etc.: an action to strengthen one's hand.
means, agency; instrumentality: death by his own hand.
assistance; aid; active participation or cooperation: Give me a hand with this ladder.
side; direction: no traffic on either hand of the road.
style of handwriting; penmanship: She wrote in a beautiful hand.
a person's signature: to set one's hand to a document.
a round or outburst of applause for a performer: to get a hand.
a promise or pledge, as of marriage: He asked for her hand in marriage.
a linear measure equal to 4 inches (10.2 centimeters), used especially in determining the height of horses.
  1. the cards dealt to or held by each player at one time.
  2. the person holding the cards.
  3. a single part of a game, in which all the cards dealt at one time are played.
Roman Law. manus(def 2).
hands, Manège. skill at manipulating the reins of a horse: To ride well, one must have good hands.
a bunch, cluster, or bundle of various leaves, fruit, etc., as a bundle of tobacco leaves tied together or a cluster of bananas.
Machinery. the deviation of a thread or tooth from the axial direction of a screw or gear, as seen from one end looking away toward the other.
Building Trades.
  1. the position of the hinges of a door, in terms of right and left, as seen from outside the building, room, closet, etc., to which the doorway leads.
  2. the position of the hinges of a casement sash, in terms of right and left, from inside the window.
Also called handle. the fabric properties that can be sensed by touching the material, as resilience, smoothness, or body: the smooth hand of satin.
Archaic. a person considered as a source, as of information or of supply.

verb (used with object)

to deliver or pass with or as if with the hand.
to help, assist, guide, etc., with the hand: He handed the elderly woman across the street.
  1. to take in or furl (a sail).
  2. to haul on or otherwise handle.


of, belonging to, using, or used by the hand.
made by hand.
carried in or worn on the hand.
operated by hand; manual.

Verb Phrases

hand down,
  1. to deliver (the decision of a court): The jury handed down a verdict of guilty.
  2. to transmit from one to another, especially to bequeath to posterity: The ring had been handed down from her grandmother.
hand in, to submit; present for acceptance: She handed in her term paper after the deadline. He handed his resignation in yesterday.
hand off, Football. to hand the ball to a member of one's team in the course of a play.
hand on, to transmit; pass on to a successor, posterity, etc.: The silver service was handed on to the eldest daughter of the family.
hand out, to give or distribute; pass out: People were handing out leaflets on every corner.
hand over,
  1. to deliver into the custody of another: Hand your wallet over now!
  2. to surrender control of: He handed over his business to his children.

Origin of hand

before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Dutch, German Hand, Old Norse hǫnd, Gothic handus

Related formshand·like, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for hand off


abbreviation for

have a nice day



  1. the prehensile part of the body at the end of the arm, consisting of a thumb, four fingers, and a palm
  2. the bones of this partRelated adjective: manual
the corresponding or similar part in animals
something resembling this in shape or function
  1. the cards dealt to one or all players in one round of a card game
  2. a player holding such cards
  3. one round of a card game
agency or influencethe hand of God
a part in something donehe had a hand in the victory
assistanceto give someone a hand with his work
a pointer on a dial, indicator, or gauge, esp on a clockthe minute hand
acceptance or pledge of partnership, as in marriagehe asked for her hand; he gave me his hand on the merger
a position or direction indicated by its location to the side of an object or the observeron the right hand; on every hand
a contrastive aspect, condition, etc (in the phrases on the one hand, on the other hand)
(preceded by an ordinal number) source or origina story heard at third hand
a person, esp one who creates somethinga good hand at painting
a labourer or manual workerwe've just taken on a new hand at the farm
a member of a ship's crewall hands on deck
printing another name for index (def. 9)
a person's handwritingthe letter was in his own hand
a round of applausegive him a hand
ability or skilla hand for woodwork
a manner or characteristic way of doing somethingthe hand of a master
a unit of length measurement equalling four inches, used for measuring the height of horses, usually from the front hoof to the withers
a cluster or bundle, esp of bananas
a shoulder of pork
one of the two possible mirror-image forms of an asymmetric object, such as the direction of the helix in a screw thread
a free hand freedom to do as desired
a hand's turn (usually used with a negative) a small amount of workhe hasn't done a hand's turn
a heavy hand tyranny, persecution, or oppressionhe ruled with a heavy hand
a high hand an oppressive or dictatorial manner
at hand or near at hand very near or close, esp in time
at someone's hand or at someone's hands fromthe acts of kindness received at their hands
by hand
  1. by manual rather than mechanical means
  2. by messenger or personallythe letter was delivered by hand
come to hand to become available; be received
force someone's hand to force someone to act
from hand to hand from one person to another
from hand to mouth
  1. in povertyliving from hand to mouth
  2. without preparation or planning
hand and foot in all ways possible; completelythey waited on him hand and foot
hand in glove in an intimate relationship or close association
hand in hand
  1. together; jointly
  2. clasping each other's hands
hand over fist steadily and quickly; with rapid progresshe makes money hand over fist
hold one's hand to stop or postpone a planned action or punishment
hold someone's hand to support, help, or guide someone, esp by giving sympathy or moral support
in hand
  1. in possession
  2. under control
  3. receiving attention or being acted on
  4. available for use; in reserve
  5. with deferred paymenthe works a week in hand
keep one's hand in to continue or practise
lend a hand to help
on hand close by; presentI'll be on hand to help you
out of hand
  1. beyond control
  2. without reservation or deeper examinationhe condemned him out of hand
set one's hand to
  1. to sign (a document)
  2. to start (a task or undertaking)
show one's hand to reveal one's stand, opinion, or plans
take in hand to discipline; control
throw one's hand in See throw in (def. 3)
to hand accessible
try one's hand to attempt to do something
  1. of or involving the handa hand grenade
  2. made to be carried in or worn on the handhand luggage
  3. operated by handa hand drill
(in combination) made by hand rather than by a machinehand-sewn

verb (tr)

to transmit or offer by the hand or hands
to help or lead with the hand
nautical to furl (a sail)
hand it to someone to give credit to someone

Derived Formshandless, adjectivehandlike, adjective

Word Origin for hand

Old English hand; related to Old Norse hönd, Gothic handus, Old High German hant



the act of warding off an opposing player with the open hand

verb hand off

(tr, adverb) to ward off (an opponent) using a hand-off
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 hand off
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for hand off




The terminal part of the human arm located below the forearm, used for grasping and holding and consisting of the wrist, palm, four fingers, and an opposable thumb.
A homologous or similar part in other animals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with hand off


In addition to the idioms beginning with hand

  • hand and foot
  • hand down
  • hand in glove
  • hand in hand
  • hand in the till, with one's
  • hand it to
  • handle to one's name
  • handle with gloves
  • hand on
  • hand out
  • hand over
  • hand over fist
  • hand over hand
  • hands are tied
  • hands down
  • hands off
  • hands up
  • hand to hand
  • hand to mouth, from
  • hand to on a silver platter

also see:

  • at first hand
  • at hand
  • at second hand
  • at the hand of
  • back of one's hand
  • bare hands
  • bird in the hand
  • bite the hand that feeds you
  • bound hand and foot
  • by hand
  • catch red-handed
  • change hands
  • clean hands
  • cold hands, warm heart
  • deal in (one a hand)
  • dirty one's hands
  • eat out of someone's hand
  • feed (hand) someone a line
  • force someone's hand
  • free hand
  • from hand to hand
  • give a hand
  • glad hand
  • grease someone's palm (hand)
  • hang heavy on one's hands
  • hat in hand
  • have a hand in
  • have one's hands full
  • heavy hand
  • helping hand
  • in good hands
  • in hand
  • in one's hands
  • in the hands of
  • iron hand
  • keep one's hand in
  • know like a book (the back of one's hand)
  • lay hands on
  • left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
  • left-handed compliment
  • lend a hand
  • many hands make light work
  • off one's hands
  • on a platter, hand
  • on hand
  • on one's hands
  • on the one hand
  • on the other hand
  • out of control (hand)
  • out of hand
  • play into the hands of
  • putty in someone's hands
  • raise a hand against
  • right-hand man
  • rub one's hands
  • shake hands
  • show of hands
  • show one's hand
  • sit on one's hands
  • sleight of hand
  • take in hand
  • take into one's hands
  • take one's life (in one's hands)
  • take the law into one's hands
  • throw in one's hand
  • throw up one's hands
  • tie one's hands
  • time on one's hands
  • tip one's hand
  • to hand
  • try one's hand
  • turn one's hand to
  • upper hand
  • wait on hand and foot
  • wash one's hands of
  • with one arm (hand) tied
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.