han·​dle | \ ˈhan-dᵊl How to pronounce handle (audio) \

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 How to pronounce handling (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from handle


handled \ ˈhan-​dᵊld How to pronounce handled (audio) \ adjective
handleless \ ˈhan-​dᵊl-​(l)əs How to pronounce handleless (audio) \ adjective


handleable \ ˈhan-​dᵊl-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce handleable (audio) \ 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The white shaker cabinets with black handles created a clean, cohesive look together with the elongated subway tile backsplash. Kelsey Murrietta, azcentral, "F-16 pilot and wife seek to put down roots in Scottsdale's DC Ranch. Take a look inside," 4 July 2019 Multiple Google employees went public with their dissatisfaction over how the claims and investigation were handles. Fox News, "Former Google exec ran ‘sex ring,’ estranged wife claims in civil complaint," 3 July 2019 Officers confirmed a rear door appeared to have been kicked in and a door handle was broken off. cleveland.com, "Used condom found on girl’s vehicle: Highland Heights Police Blotter," 3 July 2019 The name Monkey’s Tail was inspired by the slang term for a train switch handle — the bar is near the Lindale Metro station. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Mexican-American themed bar Monkey’s Tail opens July 3 in Lindale Park," 2 July 2019 Red-and-black wooden slats, carved in the shape of kayak paddles, provide handles. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "After the Russians came to the Alutiiq region, the dance rattles went silent. A Kodiak artist has changed that.," 30 June 2019 Schiffman, posting her photos under the handle @iamarentstabilizedtenant, provided a counterpoint, redefining aspirational as living in a home that a regular person can afford. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, "Rent-Stabilized and Nervous in the East Village," 24 June 2019 Devices weigh from 25 to 50 pounds, and most have telescoping handles so owners can wheel them like suitcases in stores or on BART, for instance. Carolyn Said, SFChronicle.com, "‘Life-changing’: Why some San Franciscans are crazy about electric unicycles," 23 June 2019 The @RoyalFamily account, the official handle for the queen and other senior members of the family, shared a slideshow of Prince William throughout his life, including a few sweet moments with Her Majesty. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Royal Family Showers Prince William with Love on His 37th Birthday," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 1968, Perot tapped Ken Langone, a 33-year-old Wall Street up-and-comer, to handle EDS' first public offering. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, patriot and philanthropist, dies at 89," 9 July 2019 States needed help in running the programs, and EDS won contracts — starting in Texas — to handle the millions of claims. David Koenig, Anchorage Daily News, "H. Ross Perot, Texas billionaire and presidential candidate, dies at 89," 9 July 2019 In 2017, the VR headsets first rolled out in 30 Walmart Academies where associates were trained to handle situations from the everyday, like managing the produce section, to the rare, like Black Friday madness. Rebekah Tuchscherer, USA TODAY, "Walmart uses virtual reality to test new store managers," 8 July 2019 Once beets are cool enough to handle, rub off skins with paper towels and cut into 1/2 inch wedges. Washington Post, "How to maximize beets’ sweet, earthy flavor without mess," 8 July 2019 The city’s insurer, the Florida League of Cities, hired a consultant to handle the negotiations with the hackers via the email addresses that had been posted on the city server. Frances Robles, New York Times, "A City Paid a Hefty Ransom to Hackers. But Its Pains Are Far From Over.," 7 July 2019 Immigration detention centres were built to handle single adult men, not to house families and children. The Economist, "What caused the shameful scenes at America’s southern border?," 6 July 2019 Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse producer enlists lots of cool singers to handle the vocals on his new heartbroken solo album of sorts, Late Night Feelings, including Lykke Li and Miley Cyrus. Dan Deluca, chicagotribune.com, "The songs of summer: Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen, and more," 5 July 2019 Most players, no matter the age, would not be able to find a path past that kind of a deficit on this imposing a stage, would not be able to handle that sort of stress and figure out a way. Howard Fendrich, sun-sentinel.com, "Delray Beach 15-year-old Coco Gauff pulls off another Wimbledon stunner," 5 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Noun and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about handle

Statistics for handle

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for handle

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce handle (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up handle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!