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 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

Police went to Villagomez’s apartment and found a pool of blood on a coffee table, a steak knife with blood on the handle and blood on the walls. oregonlive, "Newport mom sentenced to 10 years for stabbing son, 6, told police ‘he deserved it’," 10 Sep. 2019 Using parchment as a handle, remove the blondies from the pan and cut into triangles. Dallas News, "5 easy recipes for blondies that include lots of browned butter, nuts and liqueurs," 27 Aug. 2019 Hølte offers a wide range of cabinet fronts, six different kinds of handles in multiple finishes, and lots of countertop options in either quartz, granite, or stainless steel. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "You Can Now Shop for Ikea Hacks in a Real Brick-and-Mortar Showroom," 23 Aug. 2019 Quick-release knobs on the handle allow for vertical storage, which keeps the mower compact and off the garage floor. Dave Linkletter, Popular Mechanics, "How to Mow Your Lawn Using Math," 16 Aug. 2019 According to police, Shumaker was seen on a residential security camera walking up to a car parked in a driveway near Oriole Avenue and Suffield Street and pulling on the handle to see if it was unlocked. Pioneer Press Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Morton Grove police: Woman arrested after trying to open car parked in driveway," 13 June 2019 My biggest peeve, however, is the ultra-bright and wholly unnecessary light on the handle. Christopher Null, WIRED, "Which Toothbrush Subscription Service Is the Best?," 6 June 2019 With one hand on the plate and another on the handle of the skillet, quickly flip that frittata! Audrey Bruno, SELF, "I'm Declaring 2019 the Year of the Frittata—Here's How I Got Here and How You Can Too," 7 Feb. 2019 According to documents, investigators at the scene found a large butcher knife in the kitchen sink with blood and hair on the handle, as well as bloody clothing that had been placed in a laundry basket. Leah Allen, The Seattle Times, "Mount Vernon man charged with slaying girlfriend," 28 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But that film not only went much deeper into how a major armed conflict can impinge on a regular family’s day-to-day and private life, but also handled its metaphors, visual and otherwise, more elegantly. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'All This Victory' ('Jeedar El Sot'): Film Review | Venice 2019," 15 Sep. 2019 The Department of Public Health and Wellness is encouraging anyone who may have touched the bat or handled it in any way to contact 502-574-6675 for consideration of administering post-exposure rabies vaccine. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, "Wild bat found at the Louisville Zoo tested positive for rabies," 13 Sep. 2019 This Saturday Jacky Marshall, better known by her Instagram handle @jackyblue__, will be exhibiting her drawings and sketchbooks in London. Vogue, "Jacky Marshall, aka Instagram’s @jackyblue__, Is the Star of a One-Day Exhibition in London," 13 Sep. 2019 But the executive branch’s role in education is felt most by the nation’s colleges and universities, while much of K-12 education is handled by state and local governments. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Missing Education Questions in the Democratic Debate," 13 Sep. 2019 Customers often rent for four to six months, and the company handles delivery, installation, and return — no need for U-Hauls, desperate Craigslist ads, or curbside abandonment. Boston.com Real Estate, "Millennials and students are swiping right on luxury furniture rentals," 11 Sep. 2019 The law is part of a series of measures aimed at limiting their powers and giving lawmakers more oversight of court cases handled by the attorney general. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Hundreds of millions' at stake if GOP lawmakers and attorney general don't agree soon, Josh Kaul says," 10 Sep. 2019 Some are simply large steel projectiles, but others are live explosives liable to detonate if handled. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Hurricane Dorian Unearths Civil War Cannonballs at South Carolina Beach," 10 Sep. 2019 On the video side, the iPhone 11 Pros can handle video recording up to 4K at 60 frames per second. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "Apple's new iPhone 11 Pro, a triple-cam powerhouse: Your pre-order guide," 10 Sep. 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

19 Sep 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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

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!