hand·​ful | \ ˈhan(d)-ˌfu̇l How to pronounce handful (audio) \
plural handfuls\ ˈhan(d)-​ˌfu̇lz How to pronounce handful (audio) \ also handsful\ ˈhan(d)z-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce handful (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 If either development falls short, OSU can turn to a handful of prospects brought in over the past two seasons. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 7 July 2021 The account’s stratospheric growth all stemmed from a private stock deal available only to a handful of people. James Bandler, ProPublica, 7 July 2021 The crowds that usually throng the Taj at sunset have been reduced to a handful of mostly local residents, roaming around the 25-acre complex for just over $3 a ticket. New York Times, 6 July 2021 Those studies looked at athletes who competed in one to perhaps a handful of long-distance endurance events — defined as anything longer than 50 miles — a year. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 June 2021 Fighting is ongoing, and aid agencies report having unfettered access only to a handful of cities where the government has reestablished control. Washington Post, 20 June 2021 This year, that dried up to a handful, and several of those applicants wouldn’t show up for interviews. Eric Morath, WSJ, 20 June 2021 By then the number of card rooms in San Diego had dwindled to a handful, and continued to fall. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 June 2021 As if La Encinas didn't have enough drama — and cough, ridiculously good-looking people — season 4 of Netflix's steamy Spanish teen series Elite introduces us to a handful of new faces at the prestigious Madrid private school. Natalie Morin, refinery29.com, 19 June 2021

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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Time Traveler for handful

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for handful

Last Updated

14 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Handful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handful. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on handful

Nglish: Translation of handful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handful for Arabic Speakers


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