See more synonyms for panhandle on
verb (used with object), pan·han·dled, pan·han·dling.
  1. to accost and beg from.
  2. to obtain by accosting and begging from someone.

Origin of panhandle

1895–1900, Americanism; back formation from panhandler; so called from the resemblance of the extended arm to a panhandle1
Related formspan·han·dler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for panhandling

scrounge, sponge, freeload, bum, cadge, mooch, hustle

Examples from the Web for panhandling

Contemporary Examples of panhandling

  • Laya flew to New York and found Shulamith emaciated and panhandling, carrying a bag holding a hammer and an unopened can of food.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Shulamith Firestone's Madness

    David Frum

    April 23, 2013

British Dictionary definitions for panhandling


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


  1. US and Canadian informal to accost and beg from (passers-by), esp on the street
Derived Formspanhandler, noun

Word Origin for panhandle

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

Word Origin and History for panhandling



"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