[man-yoo-uh l]
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  1. done, operated, worked, etc., by the hand or hands rather than by an electrical or electronic device: a manual gearshift.
  2. involving or using human effort, skill, power, energy, etc.; physical: manual labor.
  3. of or relating to the hand or hands: manual deformities.
  4. of the nature of a manual or handbook: manual instructions.
  1. a small book, especially one giving information or instructions: a manual of mathematical tables.
  2. a nonelectric or nonelectronic typewriter; a typewriter whose keys and carriage may be powered solely by the typist's hands.
  3. Military. the prescribed drill in handling a rifle: the manual of arms.
  4. Music. a keyboard, especially one of several belonging to a pipe organ.
  5. Automotive. manual transmission.

Origin of manual

1375–1425; < Latin manuālis (adj.), manuāle (noun) (something) that can be held in the hand (manu(s) hand + -ālis, -āle -al1, -al2); replacing late Middle English manuel < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related formsman·u·al·ly, adverbnon·man·u·al, adjectivenon·man·u·al·ly, adverbun·man·u·al, adjectiveun·man·u·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of manual

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British Dictionary definitions for manual


  1. of or relating to a hand or hands
  2. operated or done by handmanual controls
  3. physical, as opposed to mental or mechanicalmanual labour
  4. by human labour rather than automatic or computer-aided means
  5. of, relating to, or resembling a manual
  1. a book, esp of instructions or informationa car manual
  2. music one of the keyboards played by hand on an organ
  3. military the prescribed drill with small arms
Derived Formsmanually, adverb

Word Origin for manual

C15: via Old French from Latin manuālis, from manus 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

Word Origin and History for manual

c.1400, from Latin manualis "of or belonging to the hand; that can be thrown by hand," from manus "hand, strength, power over; armed force; handwriting," from PIE *man- (2) "hand" (cf. Old Norse mund "hand," Old English mund "hand, protection, guardian," German Vormund "guardian," Greek mane "hand").


early 15c., "service book used by a priest," from Old French manuel "handbook" (also "plow-handle"), from Late Latin manuale "case or cover of a book, handbook," noun use of neuter of Latin manualis (see manual (adj.)). Meaning "a concise handbook" of any sort is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper