• Handle


    • US IPA: /ˈhæn.dl/
    • Rhymes: -ændÉ™l

    Origin 1

    From Middle English handel, handle, from Old English handle ("a handle"), from handlian ("to handle, feel, deal with, discuss"). See verb below. Cognate with Danish handel ("a handle").

    Full definition of handle



    (plural handles)
    1. A part of an object which is held in the hand when used or moved, as the haft of a sword, the knob of a door, the bail of a kettle, etc.
      • 1854, John Hovey Robinson, Silver-knife: or, The hunters of the Rocky Mountains, Once his fingers strayed to the handle of his hunting-knife, and I should have interfered had I not been conscious that Wickliffe was on his guard.
      • 1902, Atomic Weight of Lanthanum, By pushing the fork downwards so that its teeth pass the handle of the stopper, and then turning the cover of the dessicator 90°, the handle of the stopper falls into the furrows and rests upon them.
      • 1905, Origin of the Respiratory Sounds, By keeping the handle of the bellows fixed in any given position the lung within the chamber could be kept for a short time at any desired degree of distension, and by pressing at intervals upon the bag, air could be forced to and fro between the bad and the lung outside the chamber, without distending the air within it.
    2. That of which use is made; an instrument for effecting a purpose (either literally or figuratively); a tool.
    3. (Australia, New Zealand) A 10 fl oz (285 ml) glass of beer in the Northern Territory. See also pot, middy for other regional variations.
      • 2002, Kate Duignan, Breakwater, A shudder passes over him and he orders another handle of beer.
      • 2006, Rod Hylands, Lateral Connection, Imagine staring into the heavens on a clear night and seeing a handle of beer floating amongst the stars, or an angel, or the face of a famous celebrity.
      • 2008, Stephanie E. Butler, Fodor's 2009 New Zealand, When ordering a beer, you'll get either a handle (mug) or a one-liter jug (pitcher).
    4. (American) A half-gallon (1.75-liter) bottle of alcohol.
    5. (computing) A reference to an object or structure that can be stored in a variable.
      • 1989, Petrus Maria Gerardus Apers, Gio Wiederhold, Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference on Very Large Data, A handle for a type instance is similar to an open file descriptor; it is used to reference that type instance when performing operations on it.
      • 2008, Stephen J. Chapman, MATLAB programming for engineers, By contrast, when a host function creates a handle for a nested function and returns that handle to a calling program, the host function's workspace is created and remains in existence for as long as the function handle remains in existence.
    6. This article describes how to find the module name from the window handle.
    7. (gambling) The gross amount of wagering within a given period of time or for a given event at one of more establishments.
      • 2001, William Norman Thompson, Gambling in America: an encyclopedia of history, issues, and society, For a casino table game,the handle is difficult to determine, as it consists of all the bets made in every game, whether by chip or by cash play.
      • 2001, Harold L. Vogel, Travel industry economics: a guide for financial analysis, Note here, however, that the casino's "edge" (its expected value per unit bet, or, in casino jargon, the house p.c.) in table games is expressed as a percentage of the handle and not as a percentage of the drop (even though these might sometimes be the same).
      • 2007, Douglas M. Walker, The economics of casino gambling, The results for the dog racing model indicate that increases in lottery sales and decreases in horse racing handle and casino revenues in the state in question statistically increase dog racing handle.
    8. The daily handle of a Las Vegas casino is typically millions of dollars.
    9. (geography, Newfoundland and Labrador, rare) A point, an extremity of land.Handle of the Sug, Nfld.
    10. (textiles) The tactile qualities of a fabric, e.g., softness, firmness, elasticity, fineness, resilience, and other qualities perceived by touch.
    11. (topology) A topological space homeomorphic to a ball but viewed as a product of two lower-dimensional balls.

    Origin 2

    From Middle English handlen, from Old English handlian ("to handle, feel, deal with, discuss"), from Proto-Germanic *handlōną ("to take, grip, feel"), equivalent to hand + -le. Cognate with West Frisian hanneljen, hanljen ("to handle, treat"), Dutch handelen ("to handle, deal, act, negotiate"), German handeln ("to act, trade, negotiate, behave"), Swedish handla ("to buy, trade, deal"), Icelandic höndla ("to handle").


    1. (intransitive) To use the hands.
      • They have hands, but they handle not - ''Psalm 115:7
    2. To touch; to feel with the hand.
      • Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh - Luke 24:39
    3. To use or hold with the hand.
    4. To manage in using, as a spade or a musket; to wield; often, to manage skillfully.
      • That fellow handles his bow like a crowkeeper - Shakespeare, ''King Lear, IV-vi
    5. To accustom to the hand; to work upon, or take care of, with the hands.
      • The hardness of the winters forces the breeders to house and handle their colts six months every year - Sir W. Temple
    6. To receive and transfer; to have pass through one's hands; hence, to buy and sell; as, a merchant handles a variety of goods, or a large stock
    7. To deal with; to make a business of.
      • They that handle the law knew me not - ''Jeremiah, 2:8
      • 2011, December 16, Denis Campbell, Hospital staff 'lack skills to cope with dementia patients', The findings emerged from questionnaires filled in by 2,211 staff in 145 wards of 55 hospitals in England and Wales and 105 observations of care of dementia patients. Two-thirds of staff said they had not had enough training to provide proper care, 50% said they had not been trained how to communicate properly with such patients and 54% had not been told how to handle challenging or aggressive behaviour.
    8. To treat; to use, well or ill.
      • How wert thou handled being prisoner - Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part I, I-iv
    9. To manage; to control; to practice skill upon.
      • You shall see how I'll handle her - Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, V-i
    10. To use or manage in writing or speaking; to treat, as a theme, an argument, or an objection.
      • We will handle what persons are apt to envy others - Francis Bacon
    11. (soccer) To touch the ball with the hand or arm; to commit handball.
      • 2011, February 12, Les Roopanarine, Birmingham 1 - 0 Stoke, Robert Huth handled a Bentley shot, only for the offence to go unnoticed.

    Derived terms

    Related terms

    Origin 3

    Originally Cornish-American, from Cornish hanough ("name"), later hanow (pronounced han'of or han'o).



    (plural handles)
    1. (slang) A name, nickname or pseudonym.
      • 1997, Jack Canfield, Hanoch McCarty, A 4th course of chicken soup for the soul, We sat together at the restaurant and asked him about his handle (CB name).
      • 2001, Stephen King, Peter Straub, The Talisman, This was so unexpected that Jack came close to gabbling out his real name instead of the one he had used at the Golden Spoon, the name he also used if the people who picked him up asked for his handle.
      • 2007, Jon Evans, Invisible Armies, "I don't actually know his birth name. He just uses his handle."
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