hand·​ful | \ ˈhan(d)-ˌfu̇l How to pronounce handful (audio) \
plural handfuls\ ˈhan(d)-​ˌfu̇lz How to pronounce handfuls (audio) \ also handsful\ ˈhan(d)z-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce handsful (audio) \

Definition of handful

1 : as much or as many as the hand will grasp
2 : a small quantity or number a handful of people
3 : as much as one can manage the kids are quite a handful

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Examples of handful in a Sentence

The children collected seashells by the handful. Our dog is a real handful.

Recent Examples on the Web

Nine-year-old Emmeline Triggs was at one of the front-row tables celebrating her birthday with a handful of her friends and soccer teammates. Jordyn Noennig, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee celebrates as the U.S. women's soccer team wins the World Cup," 7 July 2019 Jon Jones is in the conversation with only a handful of other fighters for the title of greatest fighter of all time. Todd Martin, latimes.com, "UFC 239: Jon Jones defeats Thiago Santos; Nunes stops Holm," 6 July 2019 Now that’s a girl squad! Courteney Cox celebrated the Fourth of July with a handful of her famous friends, including her former Friends costar and real-life BFF, Jennifer Aniston. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "Friends Forever! Courteney Cox Celebrates Fourth of July with Star-Studded Selfie: 'I'm Lucky'," 5 July 2019 Durant fielded endless criticism for leaving Oklahoma City, teaming up with a handful of All-Stars and exuding uncertainty about his future in his final season with the Warriors. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "Kevin Durant’s legacy with Warriors also includes charitable impact," 5 July 2019 To take advantage of the healthful effects, mix an ounce or two of canned wild salmon with a small handful of baby spinach and a tablespoon of olive tapenade. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Health.com, "7 Healthy Late-Night Snacks," 3 July 2019 And with that shared the spotlight with a handful of those gentlemen, who took turns making their own heartfelt speeches. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Arizona music legends relive their Mill Avenue glory days at Hall of Fame induction in Tempe," 3 July 2019 Bailey’s substitute teaching, paired with a handful of tutoring sessions and Ray’s occasional refereeing, added roughly $5,000 in annual income, although that figure fluctuated. Washington Post, "How I ditched debt: ‘It made our marriage so strong’," 2 July 2019 But suddenly — and partly thanks to the 2017 trade of Matt Duchene to Ottawa — the Avs found themselves with a handful of Barries in teenagers Sam Girard, Cale Makar and Bo Byram. Mike Chambers, The Denver Post, "Chambers: Avalanche used its strength to address a weakness in Tyson Barrie trade," 1 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'handful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of handful

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for handful

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for handful

The first known use of handful was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for handful



English Language Learners Definition of handful

: an amount that you can hold in your hand
: a small amount or number
informal : someone or something that is difficult to control


hand·​ful | \ ˈhand-ˌfu̇l How to pronounce handful (audio) \
plural handfuls\ -​ˌfu̇lz \ or handsful\ ˈhandz-​ˌfu̇l \

Kids Definition of handful

1 : as much or as many as the hand will grasp
2 : a small amount or number Only a handful of people came.

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More from Merriam-Webster on handful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with handful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for handful

Spanish Central: Translation of handful

Nglish: Translation of handful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on handful

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