get/have a handle on somebody/something
get a handle on (something)
To have a firm, clear understanding or determination of something. Go down to the circuit breaker and see if you can get a handle on what's causing the power outages. I'd gotten a pretty good handle on the concept after spending an hour with the tutor.
have a handle on (something)
To have a firm, clear understanding or determination of something. I hope everyone has a handle on the material, as you'll be tested on it next week. I thought I had a pretty good handle on English idioms, but I don't understand this one at all!
get a handle on
see under get a fix on.
get a handle on somethingINFORMAL
COMMON If you get a handle on a subject or problem, you understand it and know how to deal with it. When you have got a handle on your anxiety you can begin to control it. Note: You can also say that someone has a handle on a subject or problem to mean that they understand it and know how to deal with it. We don't really have a handle on why some people survive for longer periods than others.
get a handle onfind a means of understanding, controlling, or approaching a person or situation.
2000 Farm Chemicals Getting a handle on what that profitability is can be challenging unless you are willing to do some specific cost tracking on your site-specific investment.