Etymology
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manhandle (v.)

also man-handle, mid-15c., "wield a tool," also, late 15c., "to attack (an enemy)," from man (n.) + handle (v.). Nautical meaning "to move by force of men" (without levers or tackle) is attested from 1834, and is the source of the slang meaning "to handle roughly" (1865). Related: Manhandled; manhandling.

[T]he two Canalers rushed into the uproar, and sought to drag their man out of it toward the forecastle. Others of the sailors joined with them in this attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued; while standing out of harm's way, the valiant captain danced up and down with a whale-pike, calling upon his officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke him along to the quarter-deck. [Melville, "The Town-Ho's Story," Harper's magazine, October 1851]
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handle (v.)
Middle English hondlen, handlen, "touch with the hands, hold in the hands, fondle, pet," also "to deal with, treat, manhandle," from Old English handlian "to touch or move with the hands," also "deal with, discuss;" formed from hand (n.), perhaps with a frequentative suffix, as fondle from fond. Cognate with Old Norse höndla "to seize, capture," Danish handle "to trade, deal," Old High German hantalon "feel, touch; manage," German handeln "to bargain, trade." Related: Handled; handling. Meaning "to act towards" (someone, in a certain manner, usually with hostility or roughness) is from c. 1200. The commercial sense "to trade or deal in" was weaker in English than in some other Germanic languages, but it strengthened in American English (by 1888) from the notion of something passing through one's hands, and see handler.
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