• synonyms


[hand-fast, -fahst]
  1. Archaic. a covenant or contract, especially a betrothal, usually completed by a handclasp.
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Origin of handfast

1150–1200; Middle English (past participle), earlier handfest < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse handfestr, past participle of handfesta to betroth with a joining of hands, equivalent to hand hand + festa to betroth, literally, make fast, fasten
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for handfast

Historical Examples of handfast

  • "A Candidatus Theoligiae, your Majesty," answered a handfast threadbare youth one day, when questioned in this manner.

    History Of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Volume IV. (of XXI.)

    Thomas Carlyle

  • The issue of “handfast” marriages in Scotland were eligible to be chiefs, and even sometimes claimed under feudal law.

British Dictionary definitions for handfast


  1. an agreement, esp of marriage, confirmed by a handshake
  2. a firm grip
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verb (tr)
  1. to betroth or marry (two persons or another person) by joining the hands
  2. to grip with the hand
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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

Word Origin and History for handfast


"betroth, bind in wedlock," mid-12c., from Old English handfæsten, from hand (n.) + fast (see fasten). Related: Handfasted; handfasting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper