from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Handed down to one person after being used and discarded by another.
  • adjective Of inferior quality; shabby.
  • noun Something, such as an article of clothing, that is passed on from one person to another.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Same as reach-me-down.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An outgrown garment given to one person after use by another; -- usually transferred between members of a family or close friends.
  • adjective obtained or used after prior use by another person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An item that is passed along for someone else to use; especially, a piece of clothing or other item which has been outgrown by a older sibling and passed down to a younger one.
  • adjective Used or second-hand, passed along by its prior user

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective passed on from one person to another
  • noun outgrown garment passed down from one person to another


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Such fiction may otherwise seem "standard" in its use of all of the hand-me-down practices of traditional narrative, but it's still full of "finely wrought prose, vivid characters, delectable details," as Shriver puts it a few paragraph later.

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  • "I think a lot of grooms are going to be digging around in their mothers' jewelry boxes for hand-me-down rings," says Carley Romey, editor in chief of weddings website TheKnot.

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  • The idea of deserving versus underserving poor is a hand-me-down from the Protestant/English work ethic that has a long history of ignoring the poorest and denigrating them to squalor.

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  • Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies ...

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  • When a kid gets a pair of Nike sneakers that are new rather than somebody's hand-me-down, that to them is like they've reached nirvana.

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  • And Kim had me come right over to her house so she could load me up with all of these hand-me-down baby clothes that had belonged to her kids.

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  • It was back to using my four-fingered, hand-me-down glove.

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  • Dannel Malloy travels usually via a state-owned Lincoln Mercury, a hand-me-down from his predecessor, M.

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  • One of the things—what used to be a black teenager in a dirty Allen Iverson 76ers jersey and a pair of hand-me-down Jordans—feeds on a fake-tanned white guy in a slick black convertible.

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  • But unlike used mitts and bats, you can't exactly pass off a broken board or pair of tattered, hole-ridden shoes as a hand-me-down; even the Goodwill and Play It Again Sports have standards.

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