[ han-dl ]
See synonyms for: handlehandledhandleshandling on Thesaurus.com

  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.

  1. Slang.

    • a person's name, especially the given name.

    • a person's alias, nickname, or code name.

    • a username, as on a social media website: What's your Twitter handle?

    • a name or term by which something is known, described, or explained.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  1. to use or employ, especially in a particular manner; manipulate: to handle color expertly in painting.

  2. to manage, direct, train, or control: to handle troops.

  3. to deal with (a subject, theme, argument, etc.): The poem handled the problem of instinct versus intellect.

  4. to deal with or treat in a particular way: to handle a person with tact.

  5. to deal or trade in: to handle dry goods.

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.

Idioms about handle

  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?

Origin of handle

First recorded before 900; (noun) Middle English handel, Old English hand(e)le, derivative of hand; (verb) Middle English handelen, Old English handlian (cognate with German handlen, Old Norse hǫndla “to seize”), derivative of the noun

Other words for handle

Other words from handle

  • han·dle·a·ble, adjective
  • han·dle·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • han·dle·less, adjective
  • o·ver·han·dle, verb (used with object), o·ver·han·dled, o·ver·han·dling.
  • pre·han·dle, verb (used with object), pre·han·dled, pre·han·dling.
  • re·han·dle, verb (used with object), re·han·dled, re·han·dling.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for handle


/ (ˈhændəl) /

  1. the part of a utensil, drawer, etc, designed to be held in order to move, use, or pick up the object

  2. NZ a glass beer mug with a handle

  1. slang a person's name or title

  2. a CB radio slang name for call sign

  3. an opportunity, reason, or excuse for doing something: his background served as a handle for their mockery

  4. the quality, as of textiles, perceived by touching or feeling

  5. the total amount of a bet on a horse race or similar event

  6. fly off the handle informal to become suddenly extremely angry

verb(mainly tr)
  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

  1. to have power or control over: my wife handles my investments

  2. to manage successfully: a secretary must be able to handle clients

  3. to discuss (a theme, subject, etc)

  4. to deal with or treat in a specified way: I was handled with great tact

  5. to trade or deal in (specified merchandise)

  6. (intr) to react or respond in a specified way to operation or control: the car handles well on bends

Origin of handle

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

Derived forms of handle

  • handleable, adjective
  • handled, adjective
  • handleless, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with handle


In addition to the idioms beginning with handle

  • handle to one's name
  • handle with gloves

also see:

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

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