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

Fear not, there were still a handful of wearable looks to steal inspiration from, but for the most part the spring makeup backstage was more for spectacle. Glamour, "21 Spectacular Makeup Looks From the Spring 2020 Runways," 17 Sep. 2019 Takk McKinley, in particular, was a handful for Philly. Albert Breer, SI.com, "Brees and Big Ben Concerns, the Ryan-Julio Hookup, Dak’s Magic and Poised Josh Allen: Week 2 in the NFL," 16 Sep. 2019 Sommer said there will still be a handful of loose ends to tie up, including landscaping work, guide rail installation and the painting of permanent road markings. Emily Brindley, courant.com, "West Hartford road work near I-84 will wrap up after paving this weekend," 15 Sep. 2019 In addition to the above group of veteran New England players, there are a handful of individuals who had a brief stopover in New England who were chosen. BostonGlobe.com, "Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Ben Coates, Corey Dillon, Willie McGinest, and Rodney Harrison were among the notable former Patriots who are part of the 122-member list of modern-era player nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, it was announced Thursday.," 13 Sep. 2019 On that day, there were only a handful of volunteers at the Good Neighbor Settlement House, an old two-story building in a low-income neighborhood that provides a food pantry and bed space to migrants as well as the local homeless and poor. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "Inside Trump’s Border Chaos," 12 Sep. 2019 At the US Open, there are a handful of players in the 85+ category. Gary Curreri, sun-sentinel.com, "Racquetball player eyes national title next with son," 5 Sep. 2019 There were only a handful of doctors in town, mostly general practitioners, so the practice flourished. Mike Mariani, The New Yorker, "A Town for People with Chronic Fatigue," 3 Sep. 2019 There have been a handful of substantial layoffs, though, as individual companies faced specific business setbacks. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Nestlé will lay off 53 in Northeast Portland," 3 Sep. 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

18 Oct 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

What made you want to look up handful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


involving a confidence or trust

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