han·​dle | \ˈhan-dᵊl \

Definition of handle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a part that is designed especially to be grasped by the hand

2 : something that resembles a handle

3a : title sense 4 a royal handle

b : name also : nickname went by his childhood handle

4 : hand sense 11c the smooth handle of silk

5 : the total amount of money bet on a race, game, or event

6 : a means of understanding or controlling can't quite get a handle on things

off the handle

: into a state of sudden and violent anger usually used with fly seemed ready to fly off the handle


handled; handling\ˈhan(d)-​liŋ, ˈhan-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of handle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to try or examine (as by touching, feeling, or moving) with the hand handle silk to judge its weight

b : to manage with the hands handle a horse

2a : to deal with in writing or speaking or in the plastic arts He handles the topic briefly in his book.

b : to have overall responsibility for supervising or directing : manage a lawyer handles all my affairs

c : to train and act as the assistant for (a boxer) handles featherweight boxers

d : to put up with : stand can't handle the heat

3 : to act on or perform a required function with regard to handle the day's mail

4 : to engage in the buying, selling, or distributing of (a commodity)

intransitive verb

: to act, behave, or respond in a certain way when handled or directed a car that handles well

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Other Words from handle


handled \ˈhan-​dᵊld \ adjective
handleless \ˈhan-​dᵊl-​(l)əs \ adjective


handleable \ˈhan-​dᵊl-​ə-​bəl \ adjective

Examples of handle in a Sentence


He held the shovel by the handle. The handles on the bag were torn.


Handle the fruit carefully or it will bruise. The baked potatoes were too hot to handle with our bare hands. He knows how to handle a motorcycle. He handles his motorcycle well. She learned how to handle a weapon. She handles all the bookkeeping. The system is handled by the main computer. She's proven that she can handle anything. The airport handles both passenger and cargo flights. She couldn't handle being away from her children for more than a couple of days.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Made in Oregon, these gorgeous knives have reclaimed black walnut handles. Elizabeth Karmel, The Seattle Times, "A dozen gifts for cooks and foodies," 4 Dec. 2018 The direct-to-consumer company designs carry-ons and checked bags that prioritize functionality over trends: sturdy handles molded to your grip, a scratch-proof finish, and durable zippers. Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Everyone Wants an Away Suitcase," 26 Nov. 2018 When her relationship with Harry became serious the following year, Meghan deleted all of her social media platforms as royal protocol dictates, but the picture still features her old Twitter account handle in the caption. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Remember That Time Meghan Markle Vacationed with Eddie Redmayne in 2015?," 13 Nov. 2018 The clear t0p-handle box bag held nothing but a bottle of sparkling rosé—because, really, what more does one need to carry? Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Carrying Nothing But a Bottle of Rosé in Her Bag Is a Real Mood," 10 Sep. 2018 Handcrafted by Japanese artisans with cruelty-free nylon bristles and a sustainable hardwood birch handle, editorial makeup star Gucci Westman’s new foundation brush creates a radiant party-ready complexion. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Gifts Under $100 to Give Everyone on Your List," 19 Nov. 2018 In another post, Emily showed off the back of her lingerie set, tagging her line’s brand-new Instagram handle in the photo: @mrata. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski Teases Lingerie Collection M/RATA," 17 Nov. 2018 Two-handle kitchen faucets with a side spray usually need four sink holes. Ed Del Grande, The Seattle Times, "Be sure your new kitchen sink and faucet work together," 22 Oct. 2018 Her bag, also from the show, was the highlight, though: a clear top-handle style that appeared to hold nothing more than a bottle of rosé. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "Gigi Hadid's Brandon Maxwell Rosé Bag Is a Serious Mood," 10 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The line, appropriately called M / RATA (in a fun nod/send up to Emily's nickname/Instagram handle @emrata), is a collaboration with Blush Lingerie, which is committed to ethical manufacturing and inclusivity. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Emily Ratajkowski Is Launching Her Own Lingerie Line Called M / RATA with Blush Lingerie," 17 Nov. 2018 For people with small online businesses who handle their own manufacturing, marketing, bookkeeping, and shipping, creating professional-looking product photography is often a big hurdle. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Bad product photos can hinder a small business. This company is trying to help.," 14 Nov. 2018 Overlord is an impressive directorial statement from a confident filmmaker who can handle dynamic action sequences and ratchet up tension like an action and horror veteran. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Overlord is a gloriously entertaining piece of B-movie schlock," 9 Nov. 2018 Some are turnkey services that will handle pickup and delivery. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "Best apps and sites for selling used home goods," 8 Nov. 2018 At the time, scientists didn’t have much data to predict how people would handle the six-month journey. Stephen Ornes, Discover Magazine, "Want to be a Mars Astronaut? You'll Need the Proper Mindset," 16 Oct. 2018 However, when Alice, her older sister with special needs, unexpectedly passes away, Lucy returns back to Nilson’s Bay, Wisconsin, to attend the funeral and handle her estate. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "9 Movies and TV Shows to Watch While You're Avoiding Family Over Thanksgiving," 18 Nov. 2018 Many Democrats have called Whitaker to withdraw from the probe being handled by Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors, citing derogatory comments that Whitaker made about the inquiry before joining the department. Eric Tucker, The Seattle Times, "Justice legal opinion backs Whitaker’s naming as acting AG," 14 Nov. 2018 Jared Grusd, the current CEO of Huffington Post, is Snap’s new chief strategy officer, and will handle all partnerships and content and corporate development. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Snap hired two new executives to replace departing Imran Khan, CEO Evan Spiegel’s right-hand man," 24 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'handle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of handle


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for handle


Middle English handel, from Old English handle; akin to Old English hand


see handle entry 1

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Statistics for handle

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for handle

The first known use of handle was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for handle



English Language Learners Definition of handle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a part of something that is designed to be held by your hand



English Language Learners Definition of handle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to touch, feel, hold, or move (something) with your hand

: to manage or control (something) with your hands

: to do the work required for (something)


han·​dle | \ˈhan-dəl \

Kids Definition of handle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the part by which something (as a dish or tool) is picked up or held

Other Words from handle

handled \-​dəld \ adjective a short-handled broom


handled; handling

Kids Definition of handle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to touch, feel, hold, or move with the hand Please don't handle the merchandise.

2 : to manage or control especially with the hands He knows how to handle a motorcycle.

3 : manage sense 1, direct His wife handles the money.

4 : to deal with or act on Firing—the final step in the process … —was handled well by no man.— Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard

5 : to deal or trade in This store handles electronics.

6 : to put up with I can't handle this heat.

Other Words from handle

handler \ˈhand-​lər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on handle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for handle

Spanish Central: Translation of handle

Nglish: Translation of handle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on handle

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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