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 After a perfect October and Wake Forest's fourth straight win, coach Dave Clawson has a pretty good handle on his team. Mark Frank, Star Tribune, "Wake Forest wins 4th straight, overpowers Syracuse 38-14," 31 Oct. 2020 But even Democrats say that the community has a good handle on keeping infections down. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "In Florida's Villages, outnumbered Biden backers circle the golf carts," 29 Oct. 2020 To get a better handle on what salvia is doing in the brain, in future studies Doss would want to image the brains of individuals on salvia at multiple doses—and cross reference those patterns to the ways their brains behave on classic psychedelics. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "This Is My Brain on Salvia," 14 Oct. 2020 To get a better handle on Bostrom’s simulation argument, Kipping decided to resort to Bayesian reasoning. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, "Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50," 13 Oct. 2020 Still, psychologists do not have a good handle on the types of people who are prone to buy into Big Lie theories, especially the horror-film versions. Benedict Carey, New York Times, "A Theory About Conspiracy Theories," 28 Sep. 2020 While scientists have a pretty good handle on what causes the colorful changes to occur in trees and shrubs during autumn, there are still a few mysteries. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona fall colors 2020 forecast: When and where to see the leaves around the state," 22 Sep. 2020 Those movies, however, were built around strong central characters, whereas this is an ensemble piece, to the detriment of getting a good handle on most of them. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'The Outpost' turns Jake Tapper's book into a tense but flawed vision of war," 2 July 2020 Arizona reopened without a good handle on testing, Tsai said. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland, "How has Ohio avoided a coronavirus spike while other states surge? Experts credit early closings, measured reopenings," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Close to 19,000 shoppers on Amazon are obsessed with this 11-slot holder, which is built to handle up to 35 pounds. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Thursday," 20 Nov. 2020 The King County Council also approved funding for a similar program for adults that will handle about 1,000 cases a year. David Williams, CNN, "A Washington county will let community groups decide punishments for some accused felons," 19 Nov. 2020 While Set in Stone will handle the Orchard Park design work, American Structure Point will be doing the same for $49,695 on Rustic Trail. John Benson, cleveland, "Parma seeking flooding solutions with numerous sanitary sewer projects," 19 Nov. 2020 Lynn said Herbert will be better prepared through practice, study and experience to handle those types of defenses in the future. oregonlive, "Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers have opportunity to snap losing streak when they face the winless New York Jets," 19 Nov. 2020 Jamahl Mosley will be the lead assistant, Mike Weinar will fill Silas’ role as offensive coordinator and Zach Guthrie, hired from Utah, will handle defense and special situations. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "Breaking down how Mavs’ draft-night acquisitions will play alongside Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis," 19 Nov. 2020 The nearly 6,000 people hospitalized was another record, and is more than at the worst point last spring when officials scurried to set up field units to handle potential overflow. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 14,612 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 168 additional deaths reported as data shows ‘exponential’ spread during past 12 weeks," 19 Nov. 2020 O'Connor really likes Hayes' lefty handle, stepback jumper and passing. Tyler J. Davis, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons take Killian Hayes No. 7 overall: What draft analysts say about the pick," 19 Nov. 2020 Dunning updated the hollow-core door with black leather, nailheads, and a vintage snake handle from One Kings Lane. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "This NYC Designer Used Wallpaper to Completely Transform a White-Walled Rental," 19 Nov. 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

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Handle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handle. Accessed 24 Nov. 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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