[ hand-tuh-hand ]
/ ˈhænd təˈhænd /
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close to one's adversary; at close quarters: hand-to-hand combat.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of hand-to-hand

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for hand-to-hand

British Dictionary definitions for hand-to-hand


adjective, adverb

at close quartersthey fought hand-to-hand
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

Idioms and Phrases with hand-to-hand

hand to hand


In close combat; also, at close quarters. For example, If the enemy came any closer they would soon be fighting hand to hand. This expression, dating from about 1400, is usually restricted to military contexts but occasionally sees more general use.


from hand to hand. From one person to another; through a succession of persons. For example, The instructions were passed from hand to hand until everyone had seen them, or Over the generations the family albums went from hand to hand. [Mid-1500s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.