Definition of hand over hand in US English:

hand over hand


  • 1With each hand brought successively over the other, as in climbing up or down a rope, or rapidly hauling at one.

  • 2Swimming. With each arm alternately brought out of the water from behind and with a circular sweep returned to the water in front.

  • 3Chiefly Nautical. With rapid and continuous advances, especially in "to come up hand over hand". Compare "hand over fist". Now rare.

  • 4Figurative (especially with reference to the making of money). Rapidly and continuously; methodically, easily.


  • 1Swimming. Designating a method of swimming performed hand over hand. Now chiefly historical.

  • 2Generally. Of an action or act: performed with each hand brought successively over the other.


Late 16th century (in an earlier sense). From hand + over + hand.


hand over hand

/ˌhand əʊvə ˈhand/