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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English handy, hondi (attested in personal names), alteration of earlier hendi (handy, skillful), from Old English hendiġ (skillful) (as in listhendiġ (skilled in art)), from Proto-Germanic *handugaz (handy, skillful, nimble), from *handuz (hand), equivalent to hand +‎ -y. Cognate with 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).


  • 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.
    Synonym: at hand
    You wouldn’t have a screwdriver handy, would you?
    I keep a first-aid kit handy in case of emergency.
  3. Of a person: dexterous, skilful.
    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 termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2Edit

hand +‎ -y (diminutive suffix)


handy (plural handies)

  1. (vulgar, slang) A hand job.