[hand-fast, -fahst]

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

British Dictionary definitions for handfast


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper