[ sing-guhl-han-did ]
/ ˈsɪŋ gəlˈhæn dɪd /
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accomplished or done by one person alone: a single-handed victory; single-handed sailing.
by one's own effort; unaided.
by oneself; alone; without aid: He built the garage single-handed.
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Origin of single-handed

First recorded in 1700–10

OTHER WORDS FROM single-handed

sin·gle-hand·ed·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does single-handed mean?

Single-handed is used to describe something done or accomplished alone—without help from anyone, as in a single-handed attempt.

It can also be used as an adverb meaning the same thing as single-handedly, as in Carol completed the project single-handed—she did every last thing herself. 

Single-handed is also used in situations in which someone has done something without help from anyone else even though they were available, as in She beat the other team single-handed—scoring the final 15 points of the game by herself. 

Example: This usually takes three or four people, so how did you manage to do it single-handed?

Where does single-handed come from?

The first records of the term single-handed come from the 1700s. Single-handed and the adverb form single-handedly come from the concept of something being done by one pair of hands—that is, one person.

Single-handed is often used to emphasize the impressiveness of something having been performed by one person. It is used to highlight the fact that the task normally requires a group of people to do.

For this reason, single-handed is commonly used in hyperbolic descriptions of a person’s abilities or of the difficulty of the task they accomplished, as in Her single-handed voyage changed history.

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What are some other forms related to single-handed?

What are some synonyms for single-handed?

What are some words that share a root or word element with single-handed

What are some words that often get used in discussing single-handed?

How is single-handed used in real life?

Single-handed is used to indicate that someone accomplished a (usually impressive) task by themselves.



Try using single-handed!

Is single-handed used correctly in the following sentence?

The carpenter managed to repair the bridge single-handed, with help from his assistants.

How to use single-handed in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for single-handed


adjective, adverb
unaided or working alonea single-handed crossing of the Atlantic
having or operated by one hand or one person only

Derived forms of single-handed

single-handedly, adverbsingle-handedness, 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