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[pan-han-dl] /ˈpænˌhæn dl/
the handle of a pan.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a long, narrow, projecting strip of territory that is not a peninsula, especially such a part of a specified state:
the panhandle of Alaska; the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.
Origin of panhandle1
First recorded in 1855-60; pan1 + handle


[pan-han-dl] /ˈpænˌhæn dl/ Informal.
verb (used without object), panhandled, panhandling.
to accost passers-by on the street and beg from them.
verb (used with object), panhandled, panhandling.
to accost and beg from.
to obtain by accosting and begging from someone.
1895-1900, Americanism; back formation from panhandler; so called from the resemblance of the extended arm to a panhandle1
Related forms
panhandler, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for panhandle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a hard-luck symposium, of course; but there was more to it than just a panhandle touch.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • Yet there was no better line-rider in the panhandle than Jumbo Wilkins.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • Somehow the sobriquet had clung to him even after his return to the panhandle.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • I'm not goin' to beg you on my knees to take the best job in the panhandle.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • Either of these men could have traveled the panhandle blindfolded.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for panhandle


(sometimes capital) (in the US) a narrow strip of land that projects from one state into another
(in a South African city) a plot of land without street frontage


(US & Canadian, informal) to accost and beg from (passers-by), esp on the street
Derived Forms
panhandler, noun
Word Origin
C19: probably a back formation from panhandler a person who begs with a pan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for panhandle

"something resembling the handle of a pan," 1851, from pan (n.) + handle (n.). Especially in reference to geography, originally American English, from 1856, in reference to Virginia (now West Virginia; Florida, Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alaska also have them). Meaning "an act of begging" is attested from 1849, perhaps from notion of arm stuck out like a panhandle, or of one who handles a (beggar's) pan.


"to beg," 1888, from panhandle (n.) in the begging sense. Related: Panhandled; panhandling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for panhandle



To beg, esp by accosting people on the street: The boys deal drugs or panhandle, even become male prostitutes

[1903+; fr panhandler]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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