AskDefine | Define handbook

Dictionary Definition

handbook n : a concise reference book providing specific information about a subject or location [syn: enchiridion, vade mecum]

User Contributed Dictionary



hand + book; compare Anglo Saxon handbc, or German handbuch


  1. A book of reference, mostly to be carried in the hand.



Extensive Definition

A handbook is a type of reference work, or other collection of instructions, that is intended to provide ready reference. A vade mecum (lat. "go with me") or pocket reference is intended to be carried at all times.
Handbooks may deal with any topic, and are generally compendiums of information in a particular field or about a particular technique. They are designed to be easily consulted and provide quick answers in a certain area. For example, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is a reference for how to cite works in MLA style, among other things.
"Handbook" is sometimes applied to documents that are produced within an organization that are not designed for publication -- such as a company handbook for HR, for instance. In this case, the term is used nearly synonymously with "manual."
The name "handbook" may sometimes be applied to reference works that are not pocket-sized, but do provide ready reference, as is the case with several engineering handbooks such as Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook, Marks Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers, and the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Handbooks are widely used in the sciences as quick references for various kinds of data.
handbook in German: Vademecum
handbook in French: Vade Mecum
handbook in Lithuanian: Vademekumas
handbook in Dutch: Vademecum
handbook in Portuguese: Vade-mécum

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Baedeker, Yellow Pages, ante, bet, bibliography, book, business directory, catalog, checklist, chunk, city directory, classified directory, compendium, cookbook, cookery book, directory, enchiridion, field guide, finding list, gradus, guide, guidebook, handlist, hazard, how-to book, index, itinerary, manual, nature book, parlay, phone book, play, reference book, road map, roadbook, shot, stake, telephone book, telephone directory, travel book, vade mecum, wager
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