The word "handle" can be used as a verb or as a noun.

When it’s a noun, this word describes that part of a device, a tool, or a machine where the hands are placed in order to operate it:

basketYou hold this basket by the handle.


Use the handle on a pot to avoid burning your hand.

  • Make sure you have a firm grip on the handle when you use a hammer.
  • The handle on my briefcase broke, so I had to buy a new one.
  • Vanessa broke the handle on her tennis racket.


He’s holding the axe by the handle.

girl swinging tennis racket

The handle on her tennis racket is made of leather.

When you use "handle" as a verb, it means to manage or take care of a situation:

  • Is he able to handle the responsibilities in his new job?
  • Our supervisor does a good job of handling difficult customers.
  • Do you know how to handle a snowmobile?
  • Sheila’s new car handles well when she’s on the highway.
  • Kevin can’t handle the pressure at work any longer.
  • Can you handle working under pressure?
  • I can’t handle this!

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This page was first published on January 26, 2012.