a touching, grasping, or using with the hands.
the manner of treating or dealing with something; management; treatment.
the manual or mechanical method or process by which something is moved, carried, transported, etc.


of or relating to the process of moving, transporting, delivering, working with, etc.: The factory added a 10 percent handling charge for delivery.

Origin of handling

before 1000; Middle English; Old English handlung (noun). See handle, -ing1




a part of a thing made specifically to be grasped or held by the hand.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.

to touch, pick up, carry, or feel with the hand or hands; use the hands on; take hold of.
to manage, deal with, or be responsible for: My wife handles the household accounts. This computer handles all our billing.
to use or employ, especially in a particular manner; manipulate: to handle color expertly in painting.
to manage, direct, train, or control: to handle troops.
to deal with (a subject, theme, argument, etc.): The poem handled the problem of instinct versus intellect.
to deal with or treat in a particular way: to handle a person with tact.
to deal or trade in: to handle dry goods.

verb (used without object), han·dled, han·dling.

to behave or perform in a particular way when handled, directed, managed, etc.: The troops handled well. The jet was handling poorly.

Origin of handle

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
Related formshan·dle·a·ble, adjectivehan·dle·a·bil·i·ty, nounhan·dle·less, adjectiveo·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.

Synonyms for handle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for handling

Contemporary Examples of handling

Historical Examples of handling

  • What may be said of the handling of pastry in its preparation for baking?

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • "Not in any way that I am not perfectly capable of handling myself," said Linda.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • How he had always hated the thought of any one handling what was his!


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • But what good is strength alone in the handling of a weapon?

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The plants have a tendency to turn blackish if they are bruised in handling them.

British Dictionary definitions for handling



the act or an instance of picking up, turning over, or touching something
treatment, as of a theme in literature
  1. the process by which a commodity is packaged, transported, etc
  2. (as modifier)handling charges
law the act of receiving property that one knows or believes to be stolen



the part of a utensil, drawer, etc, designed to be held in order to move, use, or pick up the object
NZ a glass beer mug with a handle
slang a person's name or title
a CB radio slang name for call sign
an opportunity, reason, or excuse for doing somethinghis background served as a handle for their mockery
the quality, as of textiles, perceived by touching or feeling
the total amount of a bet on a horse race or similar event
fly off the handle informal to become suddenly extremely angry

verb (mainly tr)

to pick up and hold, move, or touch with the hands
to operate or employ using the handsthe boy handled the reins well
to have power or control overmy wife handles my investments
to manage successfullya secretary must be able to handle clients
to discuss (a theme, subject, etc)
to deal with or treat in a specified wayI was handled with great tact
to trade or deal in (specified merchandise)
(intr) to react or respond in a specified way to operation or controlthe car handles well on bends
Derived Formshandleable, adjectivehandled, adjectivehandleless, adjective

Word Origin for handle

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

Word Origin and History for handling

Old English handlung "action of touching or feeling," from handlian (see handle (v.)). Meaning "way in which something handles" (especially a motor vehicle) is from 1962.



Old English handle, formed from hand (n.) with instrumental suffix -le indicating a tool in the way thimble was formed from thumb. The slang sense of "nickname" is first recorded 1870, originally U.S., from earlier expressions about adding a handle to (one's) name, i.e. a title such as Mister or Sir, attested from 1833. To fly off the handle (1833) is a figurative reference to an ax head (to be off the handle "be excited" is recorded from 1825, American English). To get a handle on "get control of" is first recorded 1972.



Old English handlian "to touch or move with the hands," also "deal with, discuss;" see handle (n.). Akin to Old Norse höndla "to seize, capture," Danish handle "to trade, deal," German handeln "to bargain, trade." Related: Handled; handling. Meaning "to act towards (someone) in a certain manner" (usually with hostility or roughness) is from c.1200. The commercial sense was weaker in English than in some other Germanic languages, but it emerged in American English (1888) from the notion of something passing through one's hands, and cf. handler.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with handling


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.