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Look at the picture, I am not sure if I understand the stairs' anatomy correctly.

Do we say "main handrail", "subhandrail", "a railing" as shown in the above picture?

A flight of stairs might have 1 main handrail and some subhandrails. It might also have many railings.

My child is too short to hold the main handrail. In this case,

Is it correct to say "Please hold on to the subhandrail and railings while walking up the stairs"?

  • 1
    Is there even such a thing as a sub-handrail? The lower rails are to stop people from falling through the space under the handrail - traditional wooden 'banisters' have upright supports. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 8:26
  • I don't think I've ever seen the word subhandrail before and I can hardly find the word being used anywhere. And railing just refers to the entire thing in your picture.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 11:16
  • @stangdon, look at the dictionry "oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/…" a railing is "a fence made of metal bars that go straight upwards; one of these bars", so one of these bars can also be called a railing, right
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Tom It sounds very strange to this US English speaker to call a single upright bar "a railing". You might call them collectively "railings", or the entire thing "a railing", but I wouldn't point to one of them and say "This is a railing. There are many railings here."
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


For a small child, you might just say "Hold onto the rail.", while showing them the appropriate place to grasp. It's a safety warning, so don't confuse the child with fine distinctions.

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