English Dictionary

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handsel or hansel (ˈhænsəl Pronunciation for )


(archaic (or dialect)


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


-sels, -selling, -selled, (US) -sels, -seling, -seled (transitive)
  1. to give a handsel to (a person)
  2. to begin (a venture) with ceremony; inaugurate

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

Example Sentences Including 'handsel'

That, madam, is what is known at sea as the ``sailors' handsel '.
Fidelis Morgan THE RIVAL QUEENS: A Countess Ashby de la Zouche Mystery (2002)


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