at first hand, firsthand(def 1).
    at hand,
    1. within reach; nearby; close by.
    2. near in time; soon.
    3. ready for use: We keep a supply of canned goods at hand.
    at second hand, second hand(def 3).
    at the hand/hands of, by the action of; through the agency of: They suffered at the hands of their stepfather.
    by hand, by using the hands, as opposed to machines; manually: lace made by hand.
    change hands, to pass from one owner to another; change possession: The property has changed hands several times in recent years.
    come to hand,
    1. to come within one's reach or notice: He was moved to tears when his father's old journal came to hand.
    2. to be received; arrive: The spring stock came to hand last week.
    eat out of one's hand, to be totally submissive to another; be very attentive or servile: That spoiled brat has her parents eating out of her hand.
    force one's hand, to prompt a person to take immediate action or to reveal his or her intentions: The criticism forced the governor's hand so that he had to declare his support of the tax bill.
    from hand to hand, from one person to another; through successive ownership or possession: The legendary jewel went from hand to hand.
    from hand to mouth, improvidently; precariously; with nothing in reserve: They looked forward to a time when they would no longer have to live from hand to mouth.
    give one's hand on/upon, to give one's word; seal a bargain by or as if by shaking hands: He said the goods would be delivered within a month and gave them his hand on it.
    hand and foot,
    1. so as to hinder movement: They tied him hand and foot.
    2. slavishly and continually: Cinderella had to wait on her stepsisters hand and foot.
    hand and glove, very intimately associated: Several high-ranking diplomats were found to be hand and glove with enemy agents.Also hand in glove.
    hand in hand,
    1. with one's hand enclasped in that of another person.
    2. closely associated; concurrently; conjointly: Doctors and nurses work hand in hand to save lives.
    hand in one's checks, Chiefly British. cash1(def 7).
    hand it to, Informal. to give just credit to; pay respect to: You have to hand it to her for getting the work out.
    hand over fist, speedily; increasingly: He owns a chain of restaurants and makes money hand over fist.
    hands down,
    1. effortlessly; easily: He won the championship hands down.
    2. indisputably; incontestably: It was hands down the best race I've ever seen.
    hands off! don't touch, strike, or interfere! keep away from!: Hands off my stereo!
    hands up! hold your hands above your head! give up!
    hand to hand, in direct combat; at close quarters: The troops fought hand to hand.
    have a hand in, to have a share in; participate in: It is impossible that she could have had a hand in this notorious crime.
    have one's hands full, to have a large or excessive amount of work to handle; be constantly busy: The personnel department has its hands full trying to process the growing number of applications.
    hold hands, to join hands with another person as a token of affection: They have been seen holding hands in public.
    in hand,
    1. under control: He kept the situation well in hand.
    2. in one's possession: cash in hand.
    3. in the process of consideration or settlement: regarding the matter in hand.
    join hands, to unite in a common cause; combine: The democracies must join hands in order to survive.
    keep one's hand in, to continue to practice: He turned the business over to his sons, but he keeps his hand in it. I just play enough golf to keep my hand in.
    lay one's hands on,
    1. to obtain; acquire: I wish I could lay my hands on a good used piano.
    2. to seize, especially in order to punish: He wanted to lay his hands on the person who had backed into his car.
    3. to impose the hands in a ceremonial fashion, as in ordination: The bishop laid hands on the candidates.
    lend/give a hand, to lend assistance; help out: Lend a hand and we'll finish the job in no time.
    lift a hand, to exert any effort: She wouldn't lift a hand to help anyone.Also lift a finger.
    off one's hands,
    1. out of one's charge or care: Now, with their children grown and off their hands, they will be free to travel.
    2. successfully completed; finished: The lawyer planned a vacation as soon as the case was off his hands.
    on all hands,
    1. by everyone; universally: It was decided on all hands to take an excursion.
    2. on every side; all around: piercing glances on all hands.
    Also on every hand.
    on hand,
    1. in one's possession; at one's disposal: cash on hand.
    2. about to occur; imminent: A change of government may be on hand.
    3. present: There were not enough members on hand to constitute a quorum.
    on the other hand, from another side or aspect; conversely: It was an unfortunate experience, but, on the other hand, one can learn from one's mistakes.
    on/upon one's hands, under one's care or management; as one's responsibility: He was left with a large surplus on his hands.
    out of hand,
    1. beyond control: to let one's temper get out of hand.
    2. without delay; at once: The crisis obliged him to act out of hand.
    3. no longer in process; finished: The case has been out of hand for some time.
    4. without consideration or deliberation: to reject a proposal out of hand.
    shake hands, to clasp another's hand in greeting, congratulation, or agreement: They shook hands on the proposed partnership.
    show one's hand, to disclose or display one's true intentions or motives: The impending revolution forced him to show his hand.
    sit on one's hands,
    1. to be unenthusiastic or unappreciative; fail to applaud: It was a lively show, but the audience sat on its hands.
    2. to take no action; be passive or hesitant: While he was being beaten, the others sat on their hands.
    take a hand in, to take part in; participate in: If the strike continues, the government will have to take a hand in the negotiations.
    take in hand,
    1. to undertake responsibility for; assume charge: When both parents died, an uncle took the youngster in hand.
    2. to deal with; treat of: We'll take the matter in hand at the next meeting.
    throw up one's hands, to admit one's inadequacy, exasperation, or failure; despair: When the general received reports of an enemy build-up, he threw up his hands.
    tie one's hands, to render one powerless to act; thwart: The provisions of the will tied his hands.Also have one's hands tied.
    tip one's hand, to reveal one's plans or intentions before the propitious time.
    to hand,
    1. within reach; accessible or nearby.
    2. into one's possession: A search of the attic brought some valuable antiques to hand.
    try one's hand (at), to test one's skill or aptitude for: After becoming a successful painter, he decided to try his hand at sculpture.
    turn/put one's hand to, to set to work at; busy oneself with: He turned his hand successfully to gardening.
    wash one's hands of, to disclaim any further responsibility for; renounce interest in or support of: I washed my hands of the entire affair.
    with a heavy hand,
    1. with severity; oppressively: The law will punish offenders with a heavy hand.
    2. in a clumsy manner; awkwardly; gracelessly: The play was directed with a heavy hand.
    with a high hand, in an arrogant or dictatorial manner; arbitrarily: He ran the organization with a high hand.

Origin of hand

before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Dutch, German Hand, Old Norse hǫnd, Gothic handus
Related formshand·like, adjective

Synonyms for hand Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for lift a finger


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
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 lift a finger



Old English hond, hand "hand; side; power, control, possession," from Proto-Germanic *khanduz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch, German hand, Old Norse hönd, Gothic handus). The original Old English plural handa was superseded in Middle English by handen, later hands.

Meaning "person who does something with his hands" is from 1580s, hence "hired workman" (1630s) and "sailor in a ship's crew" (1660s). Clock and watch sense is from 1570s. Meaning "round of applause" is from 1838. The linear measure of 4 inches (originally 3) is from 1560s, now used only in giving the height of horses. The meaning "playing cards held in one player's hand" is from 1620s; that of "a round at a card game" is from 1620s.

First hand, second hand, etc. (mid-15c.) are from the notion of something being passed down from hand to hand. Out of hand (1590s) is opposite of in hand "under control" (c.1200). Hand over fist (1825) is suggestive of sailors and fishermen hauling in nets. Hand jive is from 1958. To win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.

The Two Thousand Guinea Stakes was not the best contested one that it has been our fortune to assist at. ... [T]hey were won by Meteor, with Scott for his rider; who went by the post with his hands down, the easiest of all easy half-lengths. Wiseacre certainly did the best in his power to spoil his position, and Misdeal was at one time a little vexatious. ["The Sportsman," report from April 26, 1840]

To hand it to (someone) "acknowledge someone's ability" is slang from c.1906. Phrase on the one hand ... on the other hand is recorded from 1630s, a figurative use of the physical sense of hand in reference to position on one side or the other side of the body (as in the lefthand side), which goes back to Old English Hands up! as a command from a policeman, robber, etc., is from 1873. Hand-to-mouth is from c.1500. Hand-in-hand attested from c.1500 as "with hands clasped;" figurative sense of "concurrently" recorded from 1570s.



c.1400, "take charge of, seize," from hand (n.). Meaning "to pass (something to someone)" is from 1640s. Related: Handed; handing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for lift a finger




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 lift a finger

lift a finger

see not life a finger.


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.