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[fist-foo l] /ˈfɪst fʊl/
noun, plural fistfuls.
a handful:
a fistful of pennies.
Origin of fistful
First recorded in 1605-15; fist1 + -ful
Usage note
See -ful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fistful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I tell you he's given me a fistful of big notes three days ago.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • Mitzi helped herself to a fistful of the salty, twisted crackers.

    Mitz and Fritz of Germany Madeline Brandeis
  • The same man who had kicked him handed me a fistful of gold.

    Saragossa Benito Prez Galds
  • Nor was the fistful of currency in the other hand to be sneezed at.

    The Oakdale Affair Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • He reached down, plucked a fistful of grass, and mopped his forehead.

    Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance Frances Cavanah
  • Hand me up a plate and a fistful of ship biscuit, and leave me to deal with 'em.

    Poison Island Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (Q)
  • By the time he got home there wasn't anything left but a fistful of crumbs.

    Stories to Tell Children Sara Cone Bryant
Word Origin and History for fistful

1610s, from fist (n.) + -ful.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for fistful



  1. A handful, usually a large amount: I've got a fistful of overdue bills (1611+)
  2. A large amount of money: The digital stereo set me back a fistful (1950s+)
  3. A five-year prison sentence (1940s+ Underworld)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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