Something manual is operated by human hands. Before Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, picking cotton was a manual job. Nowadays, farmers might need to read a manual to know how to operate a cotton gin.

The word manual comes from Latin root words meaning "of the hand," and the adjective form of the word still maintains that meaning — "by hand or of the hands." The adjective definition is also extended a bit to mean something done by hand and not machine, and the implication is usually that it is physical work. As a noun, manual means "an instruction booklet or handbook."

Definitions of manual
  1. adjective
    of or relating to the hands
    manual dexterity”
  2. adjective
    doing or requiring physical work
    manual labor”
    manual laborer”
    of or designating manual industrial work or workers
  3. adjective
    requiring human effort
    “a manual transmission”
    hand-operated, non-automatic
    operated by hand
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    operating with minimal human intervention; independent of external control
    autoloading, self-loading, semiautomatic
    (of firearms) capable of automatic loading and firing continuously
    automated, machine-controlled, machine-driven
    operated by automation
    self-acting, self-activating, self-moving, self-regulating
    designed to activate or move or regulate itself
    locking automatically when closed
    designed so that manual winding is unnecessary
    partially automatic
    capable of independent and apparently intelligent action
    using (or as if using) mechanisms or tools or devices
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  4. noun
    a small handbook
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    consuetudinal, consuetudinary
    a manual describing the customs of a particular group (especially the ceremonial practices of a monastic order)
    a manual of black magic (for invoking spirits and demons)
    book of instructions, instruction manual, instructions, operating instructions
    a manual usually accompanying a technical device and explaining how to install or operate it
    reference manual
    a manual containing information organized in a summary manner
    sex manual
    a manual containing instruction in sexual techniques; intended to enhance the reader's sexual life
    type of:
    enchiridion, handbook, vade mecum
    a concise reference book providing specific information about a subject or location
  5. noun
    (military) a prescribed drill in handling a rifle
    synonyms: manual of arms
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    type of:
    drill, exercise, practice, practice session, recitation
    systematic training by multiple repetitions
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘manual'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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