What is the difference between a catch and a handle? Ain't they the same thing?

But here it said they got no handle but a catch:

It was very dark and dusty and draughty and they stepped from rafter to rafter without a word except when they whispered to one another, "We're opposite your attic now" or "this must be halfway through our house". And neither of them stumbled and the candles didn't go out, and at last they came where they could see a little door in the brick wall on their right. There was no bolt or handle on this side of it, of course, for the door had been made for getting in, not for getting out; but there was a catch (as there often is on the inside of a cupboard door) which they felt sure they would be able to turn.

  • Actually, a handle and a catch have very little in common, other than both being features often found on a door.
    – Marthaª
    Jun 23, 2011 at 17:56
  • Where is this passage from?
    – jjnguy
    Jun 23, 2011 at 20:00
  • @jjnguy: The Magician's Nephew, same as @gun's last 5 questions. Jun 23, 2011 at 21:24

3 Answers 3


This diagram may help:

Door catch diagram

Some might argue that the catch is actually the piece that the part labeled "catch" goes into, but I'd call that a "stop."

The catch that is described probably would look something like this:

Another catch

which is similar to an old fashioned cupboard catch, and would be fairly simply to push open if one were inside the cupboard. (Edited image to one with a turncatch.)

Here is a (hopefully) clearer example. The shaft of this knob would be put through the door, and the blade (catch) at the end would keep the door from opening unless you turned it. We called these "grandfather locks" when I was a kid, but I don't know if that's common usage, or just my family.

Picture of a turncatch

  • picture = word * 10^3
    – KeithS
    Jun 23, 2011 at 20:04
  • Except it says the catch was on their side (the inside of the cabinet, so-to-speak) of the door. So I think the catch must be something without any kind of handle on it. Both of your pictures are of something you'd see on the outside of a door. Jun 23, 2011 at 20:29
  • @Calli, I see what you mean, but the second catch picture could be the interior part of the door, with a shaft that sticks through the door that inserts into a knob that is used to turn the hook. I have some of these on a set of cabinets in my camp, so I have a really strong picture of what this would look like. I'll see if I can find a clearer picture of what I have in my head.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jun 23, 2011 at 20:51
  • @Calli There, I think that might be better.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jun 23, 2011 at 20:59
  • Perfect. I'll +1 that image! Jun 23, 2011 at 21:00

A handle is what you grab to open a door, a catch is the mechanism that keeps it closed.

Sometimes you turn the handle to release the catch.

  • How do they turn a catch? Jun 23, 2011 at 17:56
  • 1
    The mechanism of the catch may have a shaft that is attached to the handle from the opposite side, and a small bit of this shaft could protrude from the rear of the catch. If you had a pair of pliers you could conceivably turn this shaft and release the catch from the back.
    – kindall
    Jun 23, 2011 at 18:22

A catch holds a door closed, but you pull a handle to open it.

  • Wouldn't you push a handle? Jun 23, 2011 at 18:46

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