• synonyms


  1. a game, similar to squash, played by two or four persons who strike a small ball against a wall or walls with the hand.
  2. the small, hard rubber ball used in this game.
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Origin of handball

First recorded in 1400–50, handball is from the late Middle English word handballe. See hand, ball1
Related formshand·ball·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for handball

Historical Examples

  • She then set it down, and rang a handball two or three times sharply.

    The Room in the Dragon Volant

    J. Sheridan LeFanu

  • When I was in college I was very fond of handball and was a member of the handball team.

  • The action around the handball court was beautiful to watch.

    Anything You Can Do ...

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • For poetry is as much a part of convent school-life as is handball.

    Why Joan?

    Eleanor Mercein Kelly

  • Thus the game is really a combination of football and handball.

British Dictionary definitions for handball


  1. a game in which two teams of seven players try to throw a ball into their opponent's goal
  2. a game in which two or four people strike a ball against a wall or walls with the hand, usually gloved
  3. the small hard rubber ball used in this game
  4. soccer the offence committed when a player other than a goalkeeper in his own penalty area touches the ball with a hand
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  1. Australian rules football to pass (the ball) with a blow of the fist
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Derived Formshandballer, noun
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 handball


also hand-ball, 1630s as a type of ball; 1885 as a game, from hand (n.) + ball (n.1).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper