v. han·dled, han·dling, han·dles
1. To touch, lift, or hold with the hands: You should wash your hands before you handle food.
2. To operate with the hands; manipulate: can handle a jigsaw.
3. To deal with or have responsibility for; conduct: handles matters of corporate law.
4. To cope with or dispose of: handles problems efficiently.
a. To direct, execute, or dispose of: handle an investment.
b. To manage, administer to, or represent: handle a boxer.
6. To deal or trade in the purchase or sale of: a branch office that handles grain exports.
To act or function in a given way while in operation: a car that handles well in the snow.
1. A part that is designed to be held or operated with the hand: the handle of a suitcase; the handle of a faucet.
2. A means of understanding or control: has a handle on the situation.
a. Slang A person's name.
b. An alternate name or nickname, especially one chosen for self-identification on online forums or citizens band radio.
4. Games The total amount of money bet on an event or over a set period of time.
1. To conduct oneself in a specified manner: handled herself well in the interview.
2. To be able to defend oneself or fend for oneself: Don't worry about me. I can handle myself.
[Middle English handelen, from Old English handlian.]
Synonyms: handle, manipulate, wield, ply2
These verbs mean to use or operate with or as if with the hands. Handle applies widely and suggests competence: We need workers who know how to handle power tools. The therapist handled every problem with sensitivity.
Manipulate connotes skillful or artful control: Some jets are controlled by manipulating a joystick.
When manipulate refers to people or personal affairs, it often implies deviousness or fraud in gaining an end: I realized I'd been manipulated into helping them.
Wield implies freedom, skill, ease, and effectiveness in handling physical or figurative implements: The cane cutters moved through the field, wielding their machetes. The mayor's speechwriter wields a persuasive pen.
It also connotes effectiveness in the exercise of intangibles such as authority or influence: The dictator wielded enormous power.
Ply suggests industry and persistence: The rower plied his oars in a steady rhythm.
The term also applies to the regular and diligent engagement in a task or pursuit: She plies the banker's trade with great success. See Also Synonyms at touch.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.