handiwork (n.)
late 12c., from Old English handgeweorc, from hand (n.) + geweorc, collective form of weorc "work" (see work (n.)). Old English ge- regularly reduces to i- in Middle English, and the word probably came to be felt as handy + work.
handkerchief (n.)
1520s, from hand + kerchief "cloth for covering the head." Thus it is a one-word contradiction in terms. By-form handkercher was in use 16c.-19c. A dropped handkerchief as a token of flirtation or courtship is attested by mid-18c.
handle (n.)
Old English handle, formed from hand (n.) with instrumental suffix -le indicating a tool in the way thimble was formed from thumb, spindle from spin, treadle from tread, etc. The slang sense of "nickname" is first recorded 1870, originally U.S., from earlier expressions about adding a handle to (one's) name, i.e. a title such as Mister or Sir, attested from 1833. To fly off the handle (1833) is a figurative reference to an ax head (to be off the handle "be excited" is recorded from 1825, American English). To get a handle on "get control of" is recorded by 1919.
handle (v.)
Old English handlian "to touch or move with the hands," also "deal with, discuss;" see handle (n.). Akin to Old Norse höndla "to seize, capture," Danish handle "to trade, deal," German handeln "to bargain, trade." Related: Handled; handling. Meaning "to act towards (someone) in a certain manner" (usually with hostility or roughness) is from c.1200. The commercial sense was weaker in English than in some other Germanic languages, but it emerged in American English (1888) from the notion of something passing through one's hands, and see handler.
handlebar (n.)
also handle-bar, 1867 in reference to bicycles, from handle (n.) + bar (n.1). Of mustaches, first recorded 1933.
handler (n.)
late 14c., "one who handles" anything, agent noun from handle (v.). Specific sense of "one engaged in trade" is from 1690s; that of "prizefighter's assistant" (1916) was earlier used in reference to dogfights and cockfights (1825).
handling (n.)
Old English handlung "action of touching or feeling," from handlian (see handle (v.)). Meaning "way in which something handles" (especially a motor vehicle) is from 1962.
handmaid (n.)
late 14c., from hand (n.) in the sense in close at hand + maid. Compare Old English handþegn "personal attendant."
hands-off
also hands off, as an adjective, by 1895. As a command to desist, by 1810.
hands-on
also hands on, as an adjective, by 1969.
handshake (n.)
1801, from hand (n.) + shake (n.). Hand-shaking is attested from 1805.
handsome (adj.)
c.1400, handsom "easy to handle, ready at hand," from hand (n.) + -some (1). Sense extended to "fair size, considerable" (1570s), then "having fine form, good-looking" (1580s). Meaning "generous" (in handsome reward, etc.) first recorded 1680s.
[Americans] use the word "handsome" much more extensively than we do: saying that Webster made a handsome speech in the Senate: that a lady talks handsomely, (eloquently:) that a book sells handsomely. A gentleman asked me on the Catskill Mountain, whether I thought the sun handsomer there than at New York. [Harriet Martineau, "Society in America," 1837]
Related: Handsomeness.
handsomely (adv.)
1540s, "conveniently," from handsome + -ly (2). Meaning "attractively" is from 1610s; "liberally" from 1735.
handwriting (n.)
c.1500, from hand (n.) + writing, translating Latin manuscriptum. Hand in the sense of "handwriting, style of writing" is from late 14c.
An ordinary note in his [Horace Greeley's] handwriting is said to have been used for a long time as a railroad pass, then as a servant's recommendation, and finally taken to a drug-store as a doctor's prescription. ["Frank Leslie's Magazine," August 1884]
handy (adj.)
c.1300, "skilled with the hands" (implied in surnames), from hand (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "conveniently accessible" is from 1640s.
handyman (n.)
1872, from handy + man (n.).
hang (n.)
late 15c., "a sling," from hang (v.). Meaning "a curtain" is from c.1500; that of "the way cloth hangs" is from 1797. To get the hang of (something) "become capable" is from 1834, American English. Perhaps originally in reference to a certain tool or feat, but, if so, its origin has been forgotten. It doesn't seem to have been originally associated with drapery or any other special use of hang.
'To get the hang of a thing,' is to get the knack, or habitual facility of doing it well. A low expression frequently heard among us. In the Craven Dialect of England is the word hank, a habit; from which this word hang may perhaps be derived. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," New York, 1848]
hang (v.)
a fusion of Old English hon "suspend" (transitive, class VII strong verb; past tense heng, past participle hangen), and Old English hangian (weak, intransitive, past tense hangode) "be suspended;" also probably influenced by Old Norse hengja "suspend," and hanga "be suspended." All from Proto-Germanic *hangen (intransitive) "to hang" (cognates: Old Frisian hangia, Dutch hangen, German hängen), from PIE *konk- "to hang" (cognates: Gothic hahan, Hittite gang- "to hang," Sanskrit sankate "wavers," Latin cunctari "to delay;" see also second element in Stonehenge). As a method of execution, in late Old English (but originally specifically of crucifixion).

Hung emerged as past participle 16c. in northern England dialect, and hanged endured only in legal language (which tends to be conservative) and metaphors extended from it (I'll be hanged). Teen slang sense of "spend time" first recorded 1951; hang around "idle, loiter" is from 1830, and hang out (v.) is from 1811. Hang fire (1781) was originally used of guns that were slow in communicating the fire through the vent to the charge. To let it all hang out "be relaxed and uninhibited" is from 1967.
hang in (v.)
"persist in spite of adversity," 1969, see hang (v.) + in.
hang on (v.)
"to remain clinging," 1860; as a command to be patient, wait a minute, from 1936, originally in telephone conversations.
hang out (v.)
c.1400, in literal use; see hang (v.) + out (adv.). Colloquial meaning "to be found" is recorded from 1811. As a noun (often hangout) "residence, lodging" attested from 1893.
hang up (v.)
c.1300; hang (v.) + up (adv.); telephone sense by 1911. Noun hang-up "psychological fixation" is first attested 1959, from notion of being suspended in one place.
hang-dog (adj.)
also hangdog, 1670s, "befitting a hang-dog," a despicable, degraded fellow, so called either from notion of being fit only to hang a dog (see cutthroat) or of being a low person (i.e. dog) fit only for hanging. As a noun from 1680s.
hang-glider (n.)
a type of popular flying device, 1971; see hang (v.) + glide (v.). The activity of hang-gliding is from the same time.
hangar (n.)
1852, "shed for carriages," from French hangar "shed," probably from Middle French hanghart (14c.), perhaps an alteration of Middle Dutch *ham-gaerd "enclosure near a house" [Barnhart], or from Medieval Latin angarium "shed in which horses are shod" [Gamillscheg, Klein]. Sense of "covered shed for airplanes" first recorded in English 1902, from French use in that sense.
hanged (adj.)
"put to death by hanging," late 15c., past participle of hang (v.). As an expletive, from 1887.
hanger (n.)
early 15c., "one who hangs (something)," especially "hangman;" agent noun of hang (v.). Meaning "something that is suspended" is late 15c. Meaning "thing from which something is hung" is from 1690s. Specifically of coat or dress hangers from 1873. Hanger-on is from 1540s.
hanging (n.)
"act of putting to death on the gallows," c.1300 (see hang (v.)). Hanging judge first recorded 1848. Meaning "piece of drapery on the wall of a room" is late 15c. Hangings "curtains, tapestry" is from 1640s.
hangman (n.)
public executioner, mid-14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), from hang (v.) + man (n.). As the name of a spelling game, by 1951. Hangestere "female executioner" is found mid-15c.
hangnail (n.)
also hang-nail, 1670s, apparently from hang (v.) + (finger) nail, but probably folk etymology from Old English agnail "a corn on the foot, painful spike (in the flesh)" from Proto-Germanic *ang- "compressed, hard, painful" (from PIE *angh- "tight, painfully constricted, painful;" see anger) + Old English nægl "spike" (see nail (n.)).
hangover (n.)
also hang-over, 1894, "a survival, a thing left over from before," from hang (v.) + over. Meaning "after-effect of drinking too much" is first attested 1904, on notion of something left over from the night before.
hank (n.)
late 13c., probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse honk, hank "clasp, hank," related to hang (v.).
hanker (v.)
c.1600, of unknown origin, probably from Flemish hankeren, related to Dutch hunkeren "to hanker," of unknown origin; perhaps an intensive of Middle Dutch hangen "to hang" (see hang (v.)). If so, the notion is of "lingering about" with longing or craving. Related: Hankered; hankering.
hankering (n.)
"mental craving," 1660s, see hanker.
hanky-panky (n.)
also hanky panky, 1841, "trickery," British slang, possibly a variant of hoky-poky "deception, fraud," altered from hocus-pocus.
Hannah
fem. proper name, biblical mother of the prophet Samuel, from Hebrew, literally "graciousness," from stem of hanan "he was gracious, showed favor."
Hannibal
masc. proper name, name of the Carthaginian general who hounded Rome in the 2nd Punic War, Punic Hannibha'al, literally "my favor is with Baal;" first element related to Hebrew hanan "he was gracious, showed favor" (see Hannah).
Hanoi
city in northern Vietnam, from Vietnamese Hà Nôi, literally "River Inside," from "river" + nôi "inside." So called in reference to its situation in a bend of the Red River. Known 18c. as Dong Kinh "Eastern Capital," which was corrupted by Europeans into Tonkin, Tonquin, and that name was used in the French colonial period to refer to the entire region and extended to the gulf to the east.
Hans
masc. proper name, a familiar shortening of German and Dutch Johannes (see John). Used figuratively for "a German" or "a Dutchman" from 1560s.
Hansa
also Hanse, medieval European merchants' guild; see Hanseatic. A member was a Hansard (early 13c. as a surname).
Hanseatic
1610s, from Hanseatic League, medieval confederation of North German towns, from Medieval Latin Hanseaticus, from Middle Low German hanse "fellowship, merchants' guild," from Old High German hansa "military troop, band, company." Related to Gothic hansa "troop, company, multitude," Old English hos "attendants, retinue." Middle English borrowed hanse from Old French hanse and Medieval Latin hansa (both from Old High German) in sense of "a company of merchants" (late 12c.). Compare hanshus "guild hall" (12c.).
hansom (n.)
"two-wheeled, two-person cab," 1847, from James A. Hansom (1803-1882), English architect who designed such a vehicle c.1834.
Hanukkah
see Chanukah.
hap (n.)
c.1200, "chance, a person's luck, fortune, fate;" also "unforeseen occurrence," from Old Norse happ "chance, good luck," from Proto-Germanic *hap- (source of Old English gehæp "convenient, fit"), from PIE *kob- "to suit, fit, succeed" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic kobu "fate, foreboding, omen," Old Irish cob "victory"). Meaning "good fortune" is from early 13c.
hap (v.)
"to happen," mid-14c., from hap (n.) "chance."
hapax legomenon (n.)
(plural legomena), "word occurring only once," Greek, literally "once said," from hapax "once" + legomenon, neuter passive present participle of legein "to say."
haphazard (adj.)
1570s, from hap "chance, luck" (see hap) + hazard "risk, danger, peril." Related: Haphazardly.
hapless (adj.)
"unfortunate," c.1400, from hap (n.) in the sense "good luck" + -less. Related: Haplessly; haplessness.
haplo-
word-forming element meaning "simple, single; simply, once," from comb. form of Greek haplos "single, simple."
haplography (n.)
scribal error of writing only once a letter that should have been written twice; see haplo- + -graphy.