- 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
"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