or han·sel

[han-suh l]


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), hand·seled, hand·sel·ing or (especially British) hand·selled, hand·sel·ling.

to give a handsel to.
to inaugurate auspiciously.
to use, try, or experience for the first time.

Nearby words

  1. hands-down,
  2. hands-free,
  3. hands-off,
  4. hands-on,
  5. handsaw,
  6. handset,
  7. handsew,
  8. handsewn,
  9. handsfree,
  10. handshake

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 formsun·hand·seled, adjectiveun·hand·selled, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for handsel

British Dictionary definitions for handsel



archaic, or dialect


a gift for good luck at the beginning of a new year, new venture, etc

verb -sels, -selling or -selled or US -sels, -seling or -seled (tr)

to give a handsel to (a person)
to begin (a venture) with ceremony; inaugurate

Word Origin for handsel

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