Whoa! Learn About the Largest Hands in History!

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: June 19, 2022
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Human hands are a marvel of evolution. Our opposable thumbs, dexterity, and grip strength have all helped humans in their manual endeavors. We know that some people have bigger hands than others, such as those people who can palm basketballs. What if we were to tell you that the person with the largest hands in history wasn’t an NBA star.

Let’s take some time to uncover the largest hands in history, and you can see just how big they can get.  

Measuring the Largest Hands in History

Gargoyle Gecko resting on a human's open palm
Human hands can be measured by width, length, and circumference

©iStock.com/Kaan Sezer

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Before we start breaking out the rulers to measure human hands, we have to know the best way to quantify them. Three measures are useful in this discussion of the largest hands. First, we can measure the length of the hands. This is taken from the wrist to the point on the longest finger, typically the middle finger.

Another form of measurement that we can use when talking about the size of hands is breadth. This is measured at the widest point of the hand. Lastly, we can measure the circumference of one’s hands.

Out of all these measures, length is the best one. That way, we can see the absolute utmost measure of this appendage without extraneous factors interfering with the size. Now that we know the different ways to measure a hand, we have to take a look at how these appendages measure up to one another.

How Large Are the Average Hands of a Human?

horned silkworm in the hands of a child
On average, human hands measure 7.2 inches long

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It will not do any good to talk about the biggest pair of hands in the world without knowing the average size. People do have sexual dimorphism, so the average size of hands for women and men is different.

Interestingly, NASA has released data about the average size of human hands. On one hand, male hands average about 7.6 inches in length. Furthermore, male hands had a breadth of 3.5 inches and a circumference of about 8.6 inches.

On the other hand, female hands measured about 6.8 inches in length on average. They had a breadth of 3.1 inches and a circumference of 7.0 inches.

As you can see, male hands tend to be larger than female hands. So, now we have a good idea of the normal range of human hand sizes. With these figures in hand, we can now start to look at the largest hands that have ever been recorded in history.  

How Big Were the Largest Hands in History?

tallest man largest hands
Height and hand size are strongly correlated.
Robert Pershing Wadlow stood over 8 feet tall and had the largest hands in history.

©Mykola Komarovskyy/Shutterstock.com

The largest hands in history were 12.75 inches long (32.3 centimeters), and they belonged to a man named Robert Wadlow, who just so happens to be the tallest man ever. This individual stood 8 feet 11.09 inches, and he was the tallest person with irrefutable evidence of his size and existence.

By the time he was 10 years of age, he measured 6 feet 5 inches and steadily grew until his last official measurements were taken.

He was called the Giant of Illinois and the Alton Giant in his time, and he became well-known when he toured the U.S. as a member of the Ringling Brothers Circus. Sadly, he passed away in 1940 at the young age of 22 due to an infection caused by irritation from a leg brace.

During his lifetime, he regarded himself as a man working in advertising for the large shoes he wore and his appearances at the circus instead of a sideshow.

What is the Record for the Largest Hands of a Person Alive Today?

As of the writing of this article in June 2022, the largest hands of a person alive belong to a man named Sultan Kösen, and they measure 11.22 inches or 28.5 centimeters long. His hands were measured in February 2011.

Sultan lives in Turkey, and he is also the world’s tallest man alive. He stands 8ft 2.82 inches tall. Currently, he is a public figure who attends a wide variety of events to showcase his height and talk about his lifestyle. In the past, he was a member of the Magic Circus of Samoa.

Much like Robert Wadlow, Kösen suffers from a pituitary gland condition. His was caused by a tumor on the gland, and he had corrective surgery in 2012. Thus, he would not continue to grow throughout his life as Wadlow did.  

How Largest Were the Biggest Hands from an NBA Player?

large hands
Boban Marjanovic has the largest hands in the NBA.


Now that we know about the biggest hands in the world, we have to compare them to other unusually large individuals. The best place to find a collection of these people is in the National Basketball League. We could settle for any basketball league in the world, but the NBA is well-known.

The best place to start looking for people with the biggest hands is by identifying the tallest players. After all, there is a strong correlation between overall height and hand length. In this case, one of the tallest players to grace the court.

Surprisingly, Yao Ming, a man who stood 7 feet 4 inches, had hands that measured 9.75 inches according to some sources. However, the person with the largest hands in the NBA is Boban Marjanovic. He stands 7 feet 3 inches tall and has hands that measure 10.75 inches. That is half an inch longer than Shaquille O’Neal.

That means one of the biggest people to ever play the sport of basketball has smaller hands than the current and all-time record holders!

Final Thoughts on the Largest Hands in the World

Animals with Opposable Thumbs
Little son helping his father with building work. Humans not only have opposable thumbs, but we can use our thumbs and hands in ways that animals cannot.


Our hands are very important appendages. In fact, many people credit the unique style of our hands for our superiority over other creatures on the planet.

The development of precision grip and power grip allowed humans to throw spears and grip clubs and later swords. Of particular importance are our long opposable thumbs. We have the longest thumbs of any primate relative to our finger size. This unique feature has helped humans more easily manipulate objects and grasp them, helping us tinker with tools and weapons.

Our ability to work with objects and our large, highly developed brains helped humans become the dominant species on the planet. So, the next time you pick up a pencil to draw, throw a ball, or clench a fist, you should realize the significance of our hands.  

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The Featured Image

Baby Lazarus Lizard (Podarcis muralis) held in a person's hands.
Baby Lazarus Lizard (Podarcis muralis) held in a person's hands.
© Furiarossa/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 . When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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