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 The playoff matchup on Jan. 10 will feature a handful of familiar names carrying the broadcast, including one current player and a pair of former ones. Jeff Nowak, NOLA.com, "Saints-Bears on Nickelodeon: Here's what to expect from 'slime-filled' wild card broadcast," 8 Jan. 2021 There are a handful of others, among the county’s more than 300 such facilities, however, that have not yet picked up their allocations or had their shipments delivered. Kathleen Ronayne, BostonGlobe.com, "Just 1 percent of Californians immunized amid slow vaccine rollout," 5 Jan. 2021 These presents have ranged from the bold (a save-the-date for their future wedding) to the heartfelt (a bracelet for the Bachelor’s daughter) to the bizarre (a handful of dirt). Sadie Gennis, Vulture, "The Bachelor Premieres By the Numbers," 4 Jan. 2021 The market’s gains have also been driven largely by a handful of superstar stocks, a scenario eerily reminiscent of the dot-com era. Washington Post, "The stock market is ending 2020 in record territory, even as virus surges and millions go hungry," 31 Dec. 2020 Only a handful of communities in Mississippi — several of them, like Bolivar, predominantly Black and in the Delta — have lost more. NBC News, "As Covid surges in Mississippi Delta, food banks and hospitals are stretched thin," 31 Dec. 2020 At the same time, in many health systems a handful of specialties, like cancer and orthopedics, pay all the bills and then some. Til Schuermann And Helen Leis, STAT, "We stress tested banks in 2009. We need to do the same thing now for U.S. hospital systems," 29 Dec. 2020 Along with a handful of other music business-minded people in the city, including DJ and record producer Bill Lowery and Mary Tallent, Barbe helped establish an Atlanta chapter of the Recording Academy. Melissa Ruggieri, ajc, "John Barbe, Georgia Music Hall of Fame member, dies at 93," 24 Dec. 2020 Additionally, a Dominion employee filed a defamation lawsuit against Giuliani, the Trump campaign, and a handful of others, including media personalities and media outlets. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Dominion tells Trump lawyers to preserve records with legal action 'imminent'," 23 Dec. 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

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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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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Comments on handful

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