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 9c 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 flyseemed 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

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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

Noun He held the shovel by the handle. The handles on the bag were torn. Verb 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 As the pandemic grew, so did the estimates as city budget officials got a better handle on the extent of the damage. Joshua Fechter, ExpressNews.com, "COVID-19 blasts $200 million hole in San Antonio city budget as officials weigh $290 million in federal stimulus dollars," 7 May 2020 The American Academy of Dermatologists is asking physicians to log cases of skin problems to get a better handle on how common this is. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "‘COVID toes,' odd rashes: Health care professionals explore role skin problems could have in coronavirus diagnosis," 24 Apr. 2020 Getting a handle on how many people have been infected is critical to understanding how deadly this virus really is, experts stress. Helen Branswell, BostonGlobe.com, "Understanding what works: How some countries are beating back the coronavirus," 20 Mar. 2020 Mexico is still ramping up efforts to contain the virus and get a handle on the spread of infections. Justin Villamil, Bloomberg.com, "Mexico Plant Claiming to Help GM Build Respirators Ordered Shut," 8 May 2020 For the first two weeks of the lockdown, even the game room, which the Rangers had outfitted with ping pong and pool tables was off limits as the team tried to get a handle on best practices for sanitization. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "Stranded from Venezuela and their families, prospects find refuge at Rangers Village during coronavirus pandemic," 2 May 2020 One report estimates three to 30 million tests should be conducted weekly, while the other says the US should be conducting 20 million tests each day to get a handle on the pandemic. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "US could see a higher summer death toll and CDC warns of a possibly worse coronavirus outbreak in winter," 22 Apr. 2020 Financial planner Meredith Moore, founder of Artisan Financial Strategies in Alpharetta, Ga., says getting a handle on your expenses will help minimize the damage to your finances no matter what your employment situation. Veronica Dagher, WSJ, "Three Questions With Financial Planner Meredith Moore on Managing Your Money After Job Loss," 17 Apr. 2020 My daughter is in near tears every day, trying to get a handle on this stuff. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Oregon school closures strain single-parent families during coronavirus outbreak," 17 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Social media platforms have grappled with how to handle Trump's incendiary approach to public discourse. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump reiterates conspiracy theory about woman’s death, ignoring widower’s plea for peace," 27 May 2020 Regardless of how Seniors have handled the situation, the teachers have been out there, still rooting us on, whether that is for AP tests or whatever accomplishments are in store for us.. Savannah Mehrtens, Houston Chronicle, "Honoring the Class of 2020: Atascocita, Summer Creek grads prepare to enter their next phase," 27 May 2020 Conflict and confusion reign at New York hospitals over how to handle childbirth during the pandemic. Clayton Dalton, The New Yorker, "The Risks of Normalizing the Coronavirus," 27 May 2020 Read more from reporter Ron Kroichick about how Bay Area high schools are handling graduations and how some students are coping. Kellie Hwang, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: The search for coronavirus treatments expands," 26 May 2020 Tech firms have been grappling with how to handle the return to work scenario in the wake of the coronavirus. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Googlers can start returning to work July 6, but on limited basis," 26 May 2020 Federal officials are looking into how local law enforcement handled the February shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, a federal prosecutor told the family, according to the relatives' attorneys. Fox News, "Ahmaud Arbery family's legal team says feds looking into how local law enforcement handled shooting," 26 May 2020 Two health ministers have left his cabinet in a 4-week period -- one was fired and the other resigned -- after disagreements over how to handle the pandemic. CNN, "Latin America is now the 'epicenter of the outbreak,' says health official," 26 May 2020 In the face of several global crises, world leaders have yet to agree on how to handle intellectual property during emergencies. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "America’s Deadly Obsession With Intellectual Property," 21 May 2020

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for handle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for handle

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Handle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handle. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for handle


How to pronounce handle (audio)

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

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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

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