To handle something is to control it, the way an elephant handler might handle an elephant, or the way you would use a handle to lift a suitcase. If you’re panicking, a friend might suggest you “get a handle on yourself.”

How to get a handle on the word handle? Start with the thumb. Much like the word “thimble” is derived from “thumb,” “handle” essentially refers to an object held “in hand,” or placed under your control. Handle can also have a more abstract meaning, such as understanding or grasping a concept. You should be able to handle geometry before you start trig, right? A handle is also slang for a nickname. “What’s your handle?” is another way of saying “What’s your name?”

Definitions of handle
  1. verb

    touch, lift, or hold with the hands

    handle the merchandise”
    see moresee less


    show 14 types…
    hide 14 types…

    catch or pick up (balls) in baseball or cricket

    handle clumsily

    hold something in one’s hands and move it

    handle roughly
    lay hands on

    manage with the hands

    manipulate the mouse of a computer
    fiddle with, twiddle

    manipulate, as in a nervous or unconscious manner
    manage, wield

    handle effectively
    control, operate

    handle and cause to function
    knead, massage, rub down

    manually manipulate (someone’s body), usually for medicinal or relaxation purposes
    knead, work

    make uniform
    mix, ruffle, shuffle

    mix so as to make a random order or arrangement
    fiddle, monkey, tamper

    play around with or alter or falsify, usually secretively or dishonestly
    diddle, fiddle, play, toy

    manipulate manually or in one’s mind or imagination
    type of:


    make physical contact with, come in contact with

  2. verb

    manage or wield effectively

    manage, wield
    see moresee less


    show 4 types…
    hide 4 types…

    wield vigorously

    operate like a pump; move up and down, like a handle or a pedal
    sweep, swing, swing out

    make a big sweeping gesture or movement

    give a spurt of fuel to
    type of:


    hold something in one’s hands and move it

  3. verb

    be in charge of, act on, or dispose of

    “This blender can’t
    handle nuts”
    care, deal, manage
    see moresee less


    show 29 types…
    hide 29 types…
    administer, administrate

    work in an administrative capacity; supervise or be in charge of
    organise, organize

    cause to be structured or ordered or operating according to some principle or idea

    cause to operate or function
    come to grips, get to grips

    deal with (a problem or a subject)
    dispose of

    deal with or settle
    mind, take care

    be in charge of or deal with

    bring into common action, movement, or condition

    deal with simultaneously

    deal with in a routine way
    misconduct, mishandle, mismanage

    manage badly or incompetently

    be in charge of
    carry on, conduct, deal

    direct the course of; manage or control

    deal with; usually used with a form of negation

    organize and oversee items in a collection or exhibit

    plan, manage, or direct with subtle and skillful maneuvering
    arrange, order, put, set up

    arrange thoughts, ideas, or temporal events
    give, have, hold, make, throw

    organize or be responsible for
    rationalise, rationalize

    structure and run according to rational or scientific principles in order to achieve desired results

    administer a pontifical office
    territorialise, territorialize

    organize as a territory
    reorganise, reorganize, shake up

    organize anew
    collectivise, collectivize

    bring under collective control; of farms and industrial enterprises

    manage or run
    guide, steer

    be a guiding or motivating force or drive
    head, lead

    be in charge of
    manage, oversee, superintend, supervise

    watch and direct
    operate, run

    direct or control; projects, businesses, etc.

    carry on illegal business activities involving crime

    direct the taking of
    type of:

    command, control

    exercise authoritative control or power over

  4. verb

    interact in a certain way

    Handle the press reporters gently”
    do by, treat


    regard or consider in a specific way
    address, cover, deal, plow, treat

    act on verbally or in some form of artistic expression
    see moresee less


    show 22 types…
    hide 22 types…
    bemock, mock

    treat with contempt
    cut, disregard, ignore, snub

    refuse to acknowledge

    treat unjustly; do wrong to
    handle with kid gloves

    handle with great care and sensitivity

    treat as a criminal

    treat carefully

    handle roughly
    ride roughshod, run roughshod

    treat inconsiderately or harshly

    treat snobbishly, put in one’s place

    treat in a rough or boisterous manner
    brutalise, brutalize

    treat brutally
    do well by

    treat with respect and consideration
    gloss over, skate over, skimp over, slur over, smooth over

    treat hurriedly or avoid dealing with properly
    abuse, ill-treat, ill-use, maltreat, mistreat, step

    treat badly
    baby, cocker, coddle, cosset, featherbed, indulge, mollycoddle, pamper, spoil

    treat with excessive indulgence
    bait, cod, rag, rally, razz, ride, tantalise, tantalize, taunt, tease, twit

    harass with persistent criticism or carping
    blackguard, guy, jest at, laugh at, make fun, poke fun, rib, ridicule, roast

    subject to laughter or ridicule

    treat or speak of with contempt

    infringe on the rights of
    kick around

    treat badly; abuse

    treat harshly or unfairly
    victimise, victimize

    make a victim of
    type of:


    act together or towards others or with others

  5. verb

    show and train

    “The prize-winning poodle was
    handled by Mrs. Priscilla Prescott”
    see moresee less

    type of:

    control, keep in line, manipulate

    control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one’s advantage

  6. verb

    act on verbally or in some form of artistic expression

    address, cover, deal, plow, treat

    do by, treat

    interact in a certain way
    comprehend, cover, embrace, encompass

    include in scope; include as part of something broader; have as one’s sphere or territory
    see moresee less


    show 4 types…
    hide 4 types…
    theologise, theologize

    treat from a theological viewpoint or render theological in character
    discourse, discuss, talk about

    consider or examine in speech or writing

    talk at great length about something of one’s interest
    talk shop

    discuss matters that are related to work
    type of:

    broach, initiate, moot

    bring up a topic for discussion

  7. noun

    the appendage to an object that is designed to be held in order to use or move it

    “he grabbed the hammer by the
    grip, handgrip, hold
    see moresee less


    show 21 types…
    hide 21 types…
    ax handle, axe handle

    the handle of an ax
    broom handle, broomstick

    the handle of a broom

    the stock or handle of a whip
    haft, helve

    the handle of a weapon or tool

    the handle of a sword or dagger
    hoe handle

    the handle of a hoe

    a round handle
    mop handle

    the handle of a mop

    the handle of a pan
    pommel, saddlebow

    handgrip formed by the raised front part of a saddle

    a handgrip that a gymnast uses when performing exercises on a pommel horse
    rake handle

    the handle of a rake

    the handle end of some implements or tools
    gunstock, stock

    the handle of a handgun or the butt end of a rifle or shotgun or part of the support of a machine gun or artillery gun
    basket hilt

    a hilt with a basket-shaped guard for the hand
    bitstock, brace

    a carpenter’s tool having a crank handle for turning and a socket to hold a bit for boring
    butt, butt end

    thick end of the handle
    doorhandle, doorknob

    a knob used to release the catch when opening a door (often called `doorhandle’ in Great Britain)
    horn, saddle horn

    a high pommel of a Western saddle (usually metal covered with leather)
    pistol grip

    a handle (as of a gun or saw) shaped like the butt of a pistol

    (music) a knob on an organ that is pulled to change the sound quality from the organ pipes
    type of:


    a part that is joined to something larger

Word Family