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See also: Handy and händy


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English handy, hondi (attested in personal names), alteration of earlier hendi (handy, skillful), from Old English *hendiġ (skillful) (attested in listhendiġ (skilled in art)), from Proto-West Germanic *handīg, *handag, *handug, from Proto-Germanic *handugaz (handy, skillful, nimble), from *handuz (hand), equivalent to hand +‎ -y. Cognate with Saterland Frisian jäntich (handy), Middle Low German handich (skillful, apt), Middle High German handec, hendec (manual, hand-held), Old Norse hǫndugr (efficient), Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌿𐌲𐍃 (handugs, wise, clever). Akin to Dutch handig (handy), Norwegian hendig (handy), Swedish händig (handy).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • hendy (obsolete or dialectal)


  • enPR: hăn'di, IPA(key): /ˈhæn.di/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ændi


handy (comparative handier, superlative handiest)

  1. Easy to use, useful.
    Some people regard duct tape as a handy fix-all.
  2. Nearby, within reach.
    Synonyms: at hand, on hand, to hand
    You wouldn’t have a screwdriver handy, would you?
    I keep a first-aid kit handy in case of emergency.
  3. Dexterous, skilful. (of a person)
    Synonym: crafty
    She's very handy: she made all her own kitchen cupboards.
  4. (slang) Physically violent; tending to use one's fists.
    • 1974, William Purcell, British Police in a Changing Society, page 68:
      We had a sergeant who was a bit handy with the rougher elements. He dealt with them a little bit differently to what I do.
    • 2012, Tania Carver, Choked:
      The Sloanes said he had nothing on them, that he threatened them, made up a lot of lies. Tried to attack them, got a bit handy.
  5. Of a freight ship: having a small cargo capacity (less than 40,000 DWT); belonging to the handysize class.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

hand +‎ -y (diminutive suffix)


handy (plural handies or handsies)

  1. (childish) The hand.
    • 1916, Blanche Fisher Wright, The Real Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme Illustration:
      Clap, clap handies
      Mammie's wee, wee ain.

Etymology 3[edit]

Clipping of handgun and hand job followed by -y (diminutive suffix)


handy (plural handies)

  1. (MLE, slang) A handgun.
    • 2020 July 9, C1 (lyrics and music), “Even Steven”, 1:51–1:57:
      Look left and right, when I cross these roads,
      I don’t wanna get fright
      We got handies and shotties,
      which one should you decide?
  2. (vulgar, slang) A hand job.
    Synonym: wristy

Etymology 4[edit]

Disputed; see German Handy: according to some commentators, this meaning is originally from German (a condensed form of Handfunktelefon), whereas others claim there was an early, but now neglected, antetype of it in English (from etymology 1).


handy (plural handies)

  1. (mostly used by Germans) Synonym of mobile phone
    • 2000, TELESCON 2000: The Third International Telecommunications Energy Special Conference, IEEE, →ISBN, section 9 (Look at the Market), page 127:
      An important field of application for small rechargeable lithium ion batteries is that of the fast growing market of cellular phones or ‘handies’. 277,000,000 handies were sold worldwide in 1999.
    • 2003, Regina Harris Baiocchi, Indigo Sound, Susaami Books, →ISBN, pages 79 and 82:
      “I’m afraid Mister Franklyn is occupied until seven o’clock. He shall call when he breaks. I’ll take a handy to receive calls—” [] The distance frees him to take phone calls on his handy.
    • 2017, Sheldon Charles, From Within the Firebird’s Nest, Valkyrie Spirit Publishing, →ISBN:
      Life was good and quiet until six weeks ago when he received a phone call on his handy from Unbekannt Nummer --Unknown Number.
  • ? German: Handy




handy (comparative handier, superlative handiest)

  1. handy
  2. dexterous, skilful
  3. amenable (of an animal)