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or hansel

[han-suh l] /ˈhæn səl/
a gift or token for good luck or as an expression of good wishes, as at the beginning of the new year or when entering upon a new situation or enterprise.
a first installment of payment.
the initial experience of anything; first encounter with or use of something taken as a token of what will follow; foretaste.
verb (used with object), handseled, handseling or (especially British) handselled, handselling.
to give a handsel to.
to inaugurate auspiciously.
to use, try, or experience for the first time.
Origin of handsel
before 1050; Middle English handselne good-luck token, good-will gift, Old English handselen manumission, literally, hand-gift (see hand, sell1); cognate with Danish handsel, earnest money
Related forms
unhandseled, adjective
unhandselled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for handsel
Historical Examples
  • Lieutenant handsel at once took the command, making his clear voice, as he issued his orders, heard amid the wild din of battle.

    The Two Shipmates William H. G. Kingston
  • “Then we shall have the satisfaction of retaking her and thrashing her captor into the bargain,” said Mr handsel.

    The Two Shipmates William H. G. Kingston
  • "And here's a handsel to cross his palm," added Harry, passing the piper something invisible.

    The Incendiary W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy
  • A bareheaded lassie, hoping to be handsel, threw down twopence, and asked tape at three yards for a halfpenny.

    The Life of Mansie Wauch David Macbeth Moir
  • He would instantly give him a 'handsel' of harrying to stay his proud stomach.

    Border Ghost Stories Howard Pease
British Dictionary definitions for handsel


a gift for good luck at the beginning of a new year, new venture, etc
verb (transitive) -sels, -selling, -selled (US) -sels, -seling, -seled
to give a handsel to (a person)
to begin (a venture) with ceremony; inaugurate
Word Origin
Old English handselen delivery into the hand; related to Old Norse handsal promise sealed with a handshake, Swedish handsöl gratuity; see hand, sell
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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