View synonyms for handle


[ han-dl ]


  1. a part of a thing made specifically to be grasped or held by the hand.
  2. that which may be held, seized, grasped, or taken advantage of in effecting a purpose:

    The clue was a handle for solving the mystery.

  3. Slang.
    1. a person's name, especially the given name.
    2. a person's alias, nickname, or code name.
    3. a username, as on a social media website:

      What's your Twitter handle?

    4. a name or term by which something is known, described, or explained.
  4. the total amount wagered on an event, series of events, or for an entire season or seasons, as at a gambling casino or in horse racing:

    The track handle for the day was over a million dollars.

  5. the total amount of money taken in by a business concern on one transaction, sale, event, or series of transactions, or during a specific period, especially by a theater, nightclub, sports arena, resort hotel, or the like.
  6. Informal. a way of getting ahead or gaining an advantage:

    The manufacturer regards the new appliance as its handle on the Christmas market.

verb (used with object)

, han·dled, han·dling.
  1. to touch, pick up, carry, or feel with the hand or hands; use the hands on; take hold of.
  2. to manage, deal with, or be responsible for:

    My wife handles the household accounts.

    This computer handles all our billing.

  3. to use or employ, especially in a particular manner; manipulate:

    to handle color expertly in painting.

  4. to manage, direct, train, or control:

    to handle troops.

  5. to deal with (a subject, theme, argument, etc.):

    The poem handled the problem of instinct versus intellect.

  6. to deal with or treat in a particular way:

    to handle a person with tact.

  7. to deal or trade in:

    to handle dry goods.

    Synonyms: peddle, hawk, market, carry, vend, sell

verb (used without object)

, han·dled, han·dling.
  1. to behave or perform in a particular way when handled, directed, managed, etc.:

    The troops handled well.

    The jet was handling poorly.


/ ˈhændəl /


  1. the part of a utensil, drawer, etc, designed to be held in order to move, use, or pick up the object
  2. a glass beer mug with a handle
  3. slang.
    a person's name or title
  4. a CB radio slang name for call sign
  5. an opportunity, reason, or excuse for doing something

    his background served as a handle for their mockery

  6. the quality, as of textiles, perceived by touching or feeling
  7. the total amount of a bet on a horse race or similar event
  8. fly off the handle informal.
    to become suddenly extremely angry


  1. to pick up and hold, move, or touch with the hands
  2. to operate or employ using the hands

    the boy handled the reins well

  3. to have power or control over

    my wife handles my investments

  4. to manage successfully

    a secretary must be able to handle clients

  5. to discuss (a theme, subject, etc)
  6. to deal with or treat in a specified way

    I was handled with great tact

  7. to trade or deal in (specified merchandise)
  8. intr to react or respond in a specified way to operation or control

    the car handles well on bends

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Derived Forms

  • ˈhandleable, adjective
  • ˈhandled, adjective
  • ˈhandleless, adjective

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Other Words From

  • handle·a·ble adjective
  • handle·a·bili·ty noun
  • handle·less adjective
  • over·handle verb (used with object) overhandled overhandling
  • pre·handle verb (used with object) prehandled prehandling
  • re·handle verb (used with object) rehandled rehandling

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Word History and Origins

Origin of handle1

First recorded before 900; (noun) Middle English handel, Old English hand(e)le, derivative of hand none; (verb) Middle English handelen, Old English handlian (cognate with German handlen, Old Norse hǫndla “to seize”), derivative of the noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of handle1

Old English; related to Old Saxon handlon (vb), Old High German hantilla towel

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. fly off the handle, Informal. to become very agitated or angry, especially without warning or adequate reason:

    I can't imagine why he flew off the handle like that.

  2. get / have a handle on, to acquire an understanding or knowledge of:

    Can you get a handle on what your new boss expects?

More idioms and phrases containing handle

  • fly off the handle
  • get a fix (handle) on

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Example Sentences

Carved above the door’s handle is an eye out of which a pool of static grows, destabilizing the image.

Astronomers may soon get a better handle on the compositions of TRAPPIST-1’s planets.

As time goes on, keeping a handle on things gets more time consuming as you are adding news terms and copies every day.

Like most members of the Reddit channel WallStreetBets, he prefers the anonymity of his handle.

From Quartz

The models have to accurately figure out how the two streams of flow will interact with the high pressure to get a solid handle on the forecast.

The judges who handle arraignments at criminal court in all five boroughs have a small fraction of their usual caseloads.

Yet, what my peers do not realize – or cannot handle – is that rejection is a necessary part of forging a romantic relationships.

Not bragging, but come on, most guys my age can handle maybe one or two in one night.

People always have to perceive the problems before them, including many unexpected nuances, and decide how to handle them.

This past summer, Colleen LaRose, known by her self-anointed handle ‘Jihad Jane’, was sentenced to ten years in prison.

For who, while tears are falling, will pause to handle the wreaths, and find whether they are genuine?

He stood swaying the umbrella-handle about, looking down at it, as if that would assist his decision.

Then, his hand resting on the handle of the cab-door, this expression suddenly changed to one of alert suspicion.

The active Capt descended, and seizing the substantial handle rang loudly.

"I did n't fly off the handle," said the screw, twirling huskily at the end of the screw-shaft.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.