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 Police have begun to evict the protesters, sparking scuffles, arrests and a handful of injuries. The Economist, "Some activists are running out of patience with Germany’s Green Party," 21 Nov. 2020 Los Angeles is where Thompson lives and, of course, LeBron James and a handful of other Klutch clients are with the Lakers while former Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is the Clippers’ head coach. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers’ top free agency options start with their own players: Chris Fedor," 20 Nov. 2020 The district had already given access to rapid tests at urgent care centers and a handful of mobile testing sites through partnerships with the New Orleans Department of Health, Ochsner Health System and Children's Hospital of New Orleans. Della Hasselle | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Coronavirus cases triple in NOLA Public Schools in 1 week as officials urge community testing," 19 Nov. 2020 The small outpost of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with just two floors and a handful of galleries, is currently showing several immersive installations that engage physical space in a way a digital experience cannot. Washington Post, "You have until Nov. 22 to visit these six Smithsonian museums. Here’s what to expect.," 19 Nov. 2020 By this week, all but a small handful of states were on Connecticut’s coronavirus travel advisory list. Nicholas Rondinone, courant.com, "Connecticut residents wary of Thanksgiving travel during COVID-19 pandemic, survey shows, as officials ask people to stay home," 19 Nov. 2020 All but a handful of foreign leaders have already called Biden the president-elect. sun-sentinel.com, "Biden assures Israeli leaders ties will remain ‘close’," 18 Nov. 2020 Now the holiday shopping season has arrived, and with eMarketer Inc. predicting that American consumers will spend a record $192.47 billion online, Amazon is trying to spread the orders out over weeks rather than a handful of pivotal days. Isabelle Lee, Bloomberg.com, "Amazon Urges Shoppers to Order Early to Avoid Shipping Delays," 17 Nov. 2020 California, Arizona, New York and a handful of other states have raised the age limit for victims who want to bring civil or criminal charges against their perpetrators. Johnny Magdaleno, The Indianapolis Star, "'Like a scab picked off': Over 300 Hoosiers bring sexual assault claims against Boy Scouts," 16 Nov. 2020

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

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Handful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handful. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for handful


How to pronounce handful (audio)

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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