- 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.
- to give a handsel to.
- to inaugurate auspiciously.
- to use, try, or experience for the first time.
Origin of handsel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for handsel
Lieutenant Handsel at once took the command, making his clear voice, as he issued his orders, heard amid the wild din of battle.
“Then we shall have the satisfaction of retaking her and thrashing her captor into the bargain,” said Mr Handsel.
"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
archaic, or dialect
- a gift for good luck at the beginning of a new year, new venture, etc
- to give a handsel to (a person)
- to begin (a venture) with ceremony; inaugurate
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