Open main menu

Wiktionary β

Contents

EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English, from Old English handful (handful), from Proto-Germanic *handfullą, *handfullō, *handfulljô (handful), from Proto-Germanic *handuz (hand) + *fullaz (full); equivalent to hand +‎ full (fullness, plenty). Cognate with Saterland Frisian Hondful (handful), West Frisian hânfol (handful), Dutch handvol (handful), Danish håndfuld (handful), Swedish handfull (handful), Icelandic handfylli (handful).

PronunciationEdit

  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˈhæn(d)fʊl/, /ˈhæn(d)f(ə)l/

NounEdit

handful (plural handfuls or handsful)

  1. The amount that a hand will grasp or contain.
    I put two or three corns in my mouth, liked it, stole a handful, went into my chamber, chewed it, and for two months after never failed taking toll of every pennyworth of oatmeal that came into the house. - Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Vol. VI
  2. (obsolete) A hand's breadth; four inches.
    • Francis Bacon
      Knap the tongs together about a handful from the bottom.
  3. A small number, usually approximately five.
    • Fuller
      This handful of men were tied to very hard duty.
  4. Something which can only be managed with difficulty.
    Those twins are a real handful to look after.
    • 2008, Dog Fancy (volume 39, issue 11, page 76)
      Many times dogs are surrendered for reasons such as changes in the family unit, a death in the family, no time to care for a dog, or because that cute little puppy is now a 100 lb untrained handful.

SynonymsEdit

Derived termsEdit

  • To have one's handful: (Obsolete): to have one's hands full; to have all one can do.
    They had their handful to defend themselves from firing. - Sir Walter Raleigh

Related termsEdit

TranslationsEdit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.