adjective, hand·i·er, hand·i·est.

within easy reach; conveniently available; accessible: The aspirins are handy.
convenient or useful: A typewriter is a handy thing to have in the house.
skillful with the hands; deft; dexterous: a handy person.
easily maneuvered: a handy ship.

Origin of handy

1275–1325; Middle English (in surnames); see hand, -y1
Related formshand·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for handy

Synonym study

3. See dexterous.




W(illiam) C(hristopher),1873–1958, U.S. blues composer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for handy

Contemporary Examples of handy

Historical Examples of handy

  • If half what they say is true, you're a handy lad with the guns.

  • This was accomplished in 1845, when Mr. Handy made his final settlement.

  • I can rig up a handy horse-stall with my spare spars and the grating.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • I set my boots and Bud's side by side, where they'd be handy.

    Tom Sawyer, Detective

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • The last thing I did was to feel if my revolver were handy and my sword loose in the scabbard.

British Dictionary definitions for handy


adjective handier or handiest

conveniently or easily within reach
easy to manoeuvre, handle, or usea handy tool
skilful with one's hands
Derived Formshandiness, noun



W (illiam) C (hristopher). 1873–1958, US blues musician and songwriter, esp noted for the song "St Louis Blues"
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 handy

c.1300, "skilled with the hands" (implied in surnames), from hand (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "conveniently accessible" is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with handy


see come in handy.

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