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1814, from hand +‎ book, or perhaps a reintroduction of Middle English hond book, hondebooke, from Old English handbōc (handbook), or a calque of German Handbuch (handbook). Compare Dutch handboek, Danish håndbog, Swedish handbok.


English Wikipedia has an article on:

handbook (plural handbooks)

  1. A topically organized book of reference on a certain field of knowledge, regardless of size, but archetypally one to be kept readily at hand.
    Synonyms: manual, enchiridion (uncommon)
    Hyponym: employee handbook
  2. (US, gambling) A place where illicit bets can be placed.
    Coordinate term: sportsbook
    • 1916, U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on interstate commerce, Prevention of Transmission of Race-gambling Bets, page 23:
      The extent of the business done in this line is not understood by those who have not looked into it. In New York there are 50 pool rooms and 500 handbooks; in East St. Louis, 20 handbooks; in Chicago, 5 pool rooms and 200 handbooks; []
    • 1961, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Government Operations. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Gambling and Organized Crime: Hearings:
      Persons subject to his rule can be found operating, in addition to the wire service, wire service relays, handbooks, gambling houses, prostitution establishments, coin-operated device companies, bars, restaurants, night clubs, motels, []

Derived terms