• synonyms


or han·sel

[han-suh l]
See more synonyms for handsel on Thesaurus.com
  1. 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.
  2. a first installment of payment.
  3. the initial experience of anything; first encounter with or use of something taken as a token of what will follow; foretaste.
Show More
verb (used with object), hand·seled, hand·sel·ing or (especially British) hand·selled, hand·sel·ling.
  1. to give a handsel to.
  2. to inaugurate auspiciously.
  3. to use, try, or experience for the first time.
Show More

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. 2018

Related Words for handsel

allowance, alms, award, benefaction, benefit, bequest, bestowal, bonus, boon, bounty, charity, contribution, courtesy, dispensation, donation, endowment, favor, grant, gratuity, hand

Examples from the Web for handsel

Historical Examples of 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.

British Dictionary definitions for handsel



archaic, or dialect
  1. a gift for good luck at the beginning of a new year, new venture, etc
Show More
verb -sels, -selling or -selled or US -sels, -seling or -seled (tr)
  1. to give a handsel to (a person)
  2. to begin (a venture) with ceremony; inaugurate
Show More

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