Where does the word “Panhandle” come from and What does Panhandle mean?

Undoubtedly, in the sense of “to beg,” the word panhandle originated among the hoboes or vagrant tramps of the United States in the late nineteenth century.

The significance is by no means evident, but we see no likelihood that it had any direct reference to any of the geographical regions known as “Panhandles,” such as northern Texas, western Oklahoma, or northern West Virginia.

But possibly, taking the idea of “to pan out,” meaning to yield good returns, from the placer-miner’s lexicon, some hobo evolved a panhandler as one who handles the pan hopeful of good returns.

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.

Leave a Comment