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Alternative forms[edit]


Contains the phrase hand down.


hand-me-down (plural hand-me-downs)

  1. An item that is passed along for someone else to use.
    • 1948, Roy Brown (lyrics and music), “Mighty Mighty Man”:
      Well, I'm willing, I'm able, I'm practically much alive / Well, I'm six-feet-tall, I ain't no hand-me-down
    • 2023 November 29, Paul Clifton, “West is best in the Highlands”, in RAIL, number 997, page 61:
      But these routes have always had hand-me-downs that aren't really designed for the job.
  2. (especially) A piece of clothing or other item which has been outgrown by an older sibling and passed down to a younger one.



hand-me-down (not comparable)

  1. Used or second-hand, passed along by its prior user.
    • 1967, Lou Reed (lyrics and music), “All Tomorrow's Parties”, in The Velvet Underground & Nico, performed by The Velvet Underground:
      And what costume shall the poor girl wear / To all tomorrow's parties? / A hand-me-down dress from who knows where
    • 1983, 19th of March, Presidential Radio Address by Ronald Reagan
      I don't want America's recovery and security to be sacrificed on an altar of discredited hand-me-down theories. And if you'll help us, they won't be.
    • 2022 November 2, Paul Bigland, “New trains, old trains, and splendid scenery”, in RAIL, number 969, page 58:
      The old Pacers have vanished, replaced by a mix of hand-me-down fleets.



hand-me-down (third-person singular simple present hand-me-downs, present participle hand-me-downing, simple past and past participle hand-me-downed)

  1. (rare) To pass along to someone else.
    • 1963, Cleveland Amory, Earl Blackwell, editors, Celebrity Register: An Irreverent Compendium of American Quotable Notables, Harper & Row, page 40:
      “See into life, don’t just look at it” is her [Anne Baxter’s] creditable credo, hand-me-downed from her famous architect grandfather, the late Frank Lloyd Wright.
    • 1966, Mike Cohen, The Bright Young Man, J. B. Lippincott Company, page 27:
      The carpet was a montage of fade and unfade indicating that when new it had been used in another office—probably Mr. Barlowe’s—and then hand-me-downed when the decorators had cut loose.
    • 1990, Jan E. Dizard, Howard Gadlin, The Minimal Family, The University of Massachusetts Press, →ISBN, page 41:
      The traditional family was poorly adapted to consumption: its raison d’être was rooted in sharing, hand-me-downing, and cooperative endeavor.
    • 1998, Oakley M. Hall, Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades: A Mystery Novel, Berkeley, Calif., Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 124:
      He had scraped together the funds to traipse off to the latest Bonanza camp, to buy speculative stocks, liquor and fine Sacramento meals for his boomer friends and fancy women, while my mother cut pieces of cardboard and canvas into soles to stuff inside our shoes to stop the holes, and hand-me-downed our clothes.
    • 2006, Tom Bailey, Cotton Song, Shaye Areheart Books, →ISBN, page 283:
      The first thing Gabe saw as they pulled close was the flashing lights of Ruleton’s two police cruisers parked off to the side of the road—the new one Sheriff Dodd’s, the humble other the battered black-and-white that he’d hand-me-downed to his deputy, Ralph Simpson.
    • 2012, Lee Beck, From a Dark Place, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 442:
      He could not change the past but he was determined that he would not follow in the grand family hand-me-downed legacy.
    • 2017, Carol Zoref, Barren Island, New Issues Poetry & Prose, →ISBN, page 157:
      Instead I changed into a blue skirt and a white blouse with a scalloped collar, hand-me-downs from Marie Dowd that she had gotten hand-me-downed from cousins in Brooklyn who went to Catholic school.
    • 2018, Ty Marshall, “Love Seldom. Trust Never.”, in Goodfellas, Urban Books, →ISBN, chapter one (The Early Years):
      He wore a white dress shirt that was buttoned uncomfortably tight around his neck, a black tie, and an oversized blazer that had been hand-me-downed from one of his older cousins.