hand·​ful | \ˈhan(d)-ˌfu̇l \
plural handfuls\ˈhan(d)-​ˌfu̇lz \ also handsful\ˈhan(d)z-​ˌfu̇l \

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

Since Camila Cabello left Fifth Harmony in late 2016, we’ve been immersed in a wave of drama surrounding the singer and the former quartet’s relationship — complete with a handful of ill-fated jokes, awkward questions and mannequin controversies. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Camila Cabello Reconciled With Fellow Fifth Harmony Member Normani at the 2018 BBMAs," 15 Nov. 2018 The big downside is extremely limited device support: thanks to the need for multi-network support, Fi only works with a handful of Android phones. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google adds always-on VPN to its Project Fi cellular service," 13 Nov. 2018 Kavanaugh's fate lies with a handful of swing senators. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Anguish vs. anger: Raw emotion rules as Ford, Kavanaugh press their cases," 28 Sep. 2018 Dried apricots, cherries and cranberries make a great quick snack when coupled with a handful of raw almonds. Terri Milligan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Keep your cool: No-heat cooking keeps you comfortable and the food fresh," 5 July 2018 In rural northern Florida, smaller counties with just a handful of hotels have seen the beachfront home rental business boom. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How vacation homes went from private escape to investment opportunities," 2 Oct. 2018 With a handful of new tools rolling out over the coming weeks (users on Android and iPhones get it first this week), the search giant is trying to change that. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Google really wants you to use Maps and search to plan your next outing," 28 Sep. 2018 At Mansur Gavriel’s September 9 show, a couple models donned a more delicate take on the trend, with a handful of dainty flowers strewn throughout their locks. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Rodarte and Mansur Gavriel New York Fashion Week 2018 Models Wore Floral Hair Accessories," 10 Sep. 2018 With a handful of competitive congressional seats, the state could also be critical in the battle for control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Live results for Minnesota primary elections," 14 Aug. 2018

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

29 Nov 2018

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

: someone or something that is difficult to control


hand·​ful | \ˈhand-ˌfu̇l \
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

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