Where Did the Term “Handle” For An Alias Or Electronic Nickname Come From and What Does it Mean?

An alias intended to conceal a user’s real name or identity within an electronic message is called a “handle.”

Consider that handle is an extension of the word hand and is used to describe something you can get you hands on.

Clearly, though an alias can be used to avoid revealing personal data, a figurative “handle” offers a way of getting hold of someone without disturbing that anonymity.

The term was popular with ham radio operators and resurfaced during the CB radio craze of the 1970s and is now used on the Internet.

In the jargon of the 1870s, titles such as “sir” or “madame” were introduced to common English as “handles.”

Shortwave radio operators are called “hams” from the call letters of an amateur wireless station set up by three members of the Harvard Radio Club whose last names began with the letters H, A, and M.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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