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single-handedly

[ sing-guhl-han-did-lee ]
/ ˈsɪŋ gəlˈhæn dɪd li /
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adverb

in a single-handed manner; single-handed.

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Origin of single-handedly

First recorded in 1880–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does single-handedly mean?

Single-handedly means done or accomplished alone—without help from anyone, as in Carol completed the project single-handedly—she did every last thing herself. 

Single-handedly is the adverb form of the adjective singlehanded, which is used to describe something done by one person, as with a single-handed attempt. Single-handed can also be used as an adverb, as in Abdul sailed the boat single-handed. 

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

Example: Lori single-handedly solved the math equation that had stumped mathematicians for years.

Where does single-handedly come from?

The first records of the term single-handedly come from the 1880s. It is an adverb form of the adjective single-handed, whose first records come from around 1700. Both of these words may come from the concept of something being done by one pair of hands—that is, one person.

Single-handedly 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-handedly is commonly used in hyperbolic descriptions of a person’s abilities or of the difficulty of the task they accomplished, as in Basketball Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes single-handedly altered women’s professional basketball.

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How is single-handedly used in real life?

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

 

 

Try using single-handedly!

Is single-handedly used correctly in the following sentence?

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

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