Green’s Dictionary of Slang

handle n.

1. (later use US) the penis.

[UK] graffito in Merry-Thought III 8: A ’Pothecary’s Wife, Who never lov’d her Spouse in all her Life; And for want of his handle, Made use of a candle.
[US] in R.G. Reisner Graffiti (1971) 129: The Girls that love / Have learn’d the Use of Candles; And since that, by Jove [...] We have lost the Use of Handles.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 319: Though there is that patch to which he is accustomed to seeing a handle, now no handle, how to handle?!

2. the nose.

[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk V 610: And thus sleeping, they had barnacles on the handles of their faces.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: The cove flashes a rare handle to his physog; the fellow has a large nose.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
Modern Society 27 Aug. 864: A restless, intriguing, and busy old lady, with an immense handle to her face.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

3. a name, a nickname, a title (esp. as spoken rather than written); thus a handle to one’s name, a title, an honorific.

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 353: ‘To The President of the Delegates’ [...] That’s the handle of my Sunday’s name, you must know, my lads.
[UK]‘A. Burton’ My Cousin in the Army 105: The men [...] With pretty handles to their names;— The Hons. and Barts. and KCB’s.
[UK]‘Dip, the Tallow-Chandler’ in Out-and-Outer in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 151: They call’d him Dip though his name was Dan, / But he never cares how many handles.
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 22: ‘Mister Coxswain! thanky, sir, for giving me a handle to my name,’ replied he.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England I 265: Seein’ that you have no handle to your name [...] it’s most likely you can’t answer.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 264: ‘[He] hailed me only last night in the park by my surname, Sir — no prefix, by George, no handle’.
[UK]Thackeray Newcomes I 222: She [...] entertains us with stories of colonial governors and their ladies, mentioning no persons but those who ‘had handles to their names,’ as the phrase is.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Facey Romford’s Hounds 118: Ar didn’t ken yeer mistress had a handle tir her name.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 83/2: ‘Can you put a handle to it?’ ‘Yes;’ say Adolphus de Villiers.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple III 42: Barring the handle, you’ve got it right, my lads; John Pogson is my name.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Jan. 9/2: Neither of the ‘handles’ is to be found in ‘Burke’ – not even in the ‘Chads’ list, which enumerates those claiming rank not acknowledged by the authorities.
[US]J. London ‘’Frisco Kid’s Story’ in High School Aegis X (15 Feb.) 2–3: Charley wuz his handle?
[UK]Marvel XV:373 Jan. 4: What’s yer handle?
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Past One at Rooney’s’ in Strictly Business (1915) 263: That’s a swell handle [...] Mine’s McManus.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 26 May 13/2: ‘Did you ever hear about a man named Lord Cowdray?’ ‘No,’ said the sentry. [...] ‘How would I be knowing one of those foreign wops with handles to their names?’.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 101: But they’s only one in the bunch that’s got any handle to her name; that’s Lady Perkins.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 27 Aug. [synd. col.] Clifton Webb’s real handle is Clifton Raum.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Goldfish’ in Red Wind (1946) 167: ‘What’s your handle?’ ‘Dodge Willis, El Paso.’.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 5: What’s all this—? Are ya havin’ me on? What’s that there fancy handle ya give me?
[UK]W. Talsman Gaudy Image (1966) 17: It’s my handle [...] Passion Rat, they call me.
[Aus]B. Hesling Dinkumization or Depommification 128: ‘I’m Ossie. Me cobber’s Skim.’ These were the handles by which they wanted to be known.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 53: They even had the class to pick one of the most righteous handles of all time: the Troggs.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 156: Watch it [...] I’ve got a handle to my name.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 139: Skaters [...] thought he said Wheels, a natural handle for a skater. Hence, Mr Wheels.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 222: The handle Gypsy went with the new cover for the tatoos and rings.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 73: My name’s Lily [...] Whats your handle?
[UK]Times (2) 30 Apr. 8/1: A 49-year-old trucker who wished to be known only by his handle (the moniker truckers use on their radio system).
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 63: The mixture of hyper-speed Sicilian and slow English that earned native guys like himm the behind-the-back handle ‘zips’.
[US]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: ‘Got any jellies, Stauner?’ It’s some wee ned I don’t even know, but he knows my handle.
[UK]Observer 13 Apr. 17/4: His Twitter handle [...] seems to sum up his mission: keeping it real.

4. a fool.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

5. (US) an influence on; a role in.

[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple III 89: His signing the false statement gives us all the handle we require.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 51: Otto, president of the chapter, couldn’t get a handle anywhere.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 316: The idea man granted renewed standing for having a handle on the caper.

6. (US Und.) in pl., side-whiskers.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 42: handles [...] Limited usage, chiefly by criminals who understand more or less about physiognomical description and disguises. Side-whiskers; ‘mutton chops.’.

7. (Aus./N.Z.) a pint glass of beer with a handle (as opposed to a ‘straight’ glass); thus half-handle half a pint.

[Aus]Eve. Jrnl (Adelaide, SA) 2 June 2/1: Defendant said when the police entered he was in the act of serving a boarder with a ‘handle’ of beer.
[Aus]Nambour Chron. (Qld) 6 June 7/4: Sorry to have to contradict ‘Duglio’, but hope to meet him some day in Young and Jackson’s Bar and, over a long one with a handle on it, tell him personally how greatful we were for the assistance of his Heavies, which enabled us to hng [sic] on to Mont Hemmel until relieved in April.
[NZ]R. Finlayson Brown Man’s Burden 40: ‘A handle of beer,’ Mr Puttle was saying easily to the barman.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘That Summer’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 161: The barman took my half-handle to fill it again.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 16: Containers run from five-ounce glasses to eighteen gallon kegs. There are middies, schooners, ponies, lady’s waists, butchers, handles, mugs, jugs [etc].
M.J. ‘Chap’ Burton Bush Pub (1983) 41: ‘I want a handle of beer with a dash of rum, Burt,’ Joe said.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 54/2: handle glass of beer with handle; also half-handle; pint and half-pint, in imperial measures.
[Aus]Aus. Word Map [Internet] handle [...] ‘The term handle is used at traditional inner urban/city Melbourne pubs. Generally speaking, it is preferable not to drink from a 'handle' given the similarity to sipping a cup of tea (the handle on the side)’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

8. (US campus) a ring of excess fat around one’s stomach, a ‘spare tyre’.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U.

9. (US) in pl., the female breasts.

[US]T. Lorenz Guys Like Us 128: She wasn’t bad, good legs, nice handles, maybe she’d be there.

In phrases

get a handle (v.) [? abbr. phr. get a handle and turn yourself off or synon. colloq. get a grip]

1. (US) to get an understanding of, to find a reference or clue to something.

Compyrters & People 16 19/2: To get a handle on programming we have got to get a handle on a programmer.
Black Enterprise July 26/1: Before you make a move to buy a station, get a handle on the amount of financing you can get.
[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 41: Give them a good briefing after [...] he’d managed to get some kind of handle on the thing.
[US]R. Campbell Sweet La-La Land (1999) 143: We’re trying to get a handle on this man who killed your friend.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 161: We couldn’t get a handle on the killer, hard as we tried.

2. (US) to calm down, to control oneself.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 209: Get a handle on yourself, girl.