Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

handsel

or han·sel

[han-suh l]
See more synonyms for handsel on Thesaurus.com
noun
  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

Examples from the Web for handsel

Historical Examples

  • "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

handsel

hansel

archaic, or dialect
noun
  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

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