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

When the radio partnership launched in 2017, the station had an intimate gathering in their offices for a handful of kids and parents who got to meet Luck and ask him questions. Conor Orr, SI.com, "Everything Andrew Luck Was, Is and Will Be," 3 Sep. 2019 But skincare, like makeup, could soon reach its own saturation point, as consumers shift from expensive, multi-step routines to a handful of reliable products. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartzy, "Ulta is struggling because of your boring beauty routine," 30 Aug. 2019 Sitting behind piles of paper, O’Connor weighed the government’s request to issue removal orders for a handful of asylum seekers who hadn’t shown up for their hearings that day. Los Angeles Times, "Trump administration appears to violate law in forcing asylum seekers back to Mexico, officials warn," 28 Aug. 2019 Once upon a time, Erica Thomas, a state legislator in Georgia, roamed the aisles of a local grocery store for a handful of canned goods and snack foods. John Hirschauer, National Review, "Erica Thomas, Mythmaker," 26 July 2019 Bring exact cash for the trolley, enough ones for a handful of $2 trips. New York Times, "An Upstate Culture Crawl, Thanks to a $2 Trolley That Drops You Door to Door," 24 July 2019 Lake Health’s move into the insurance market adds another provider to the handful offering insurance products. Ginger Christ, cleveland.com, "Lake Health enters the insurance market with Medical Mutual," 12 July 2019 The House Judiciary Committee approved subpoenas for a handful of Trump officials. NBC News, "Two different contests are defining the Democratic presidential race," 12 July 2019 By the time Mina and Steve began dating, the mother-daughter reno business, Two Chicks and a Hammer, had been up and running for a handful of years. Selena Barrientos, House Beautiful, "'Good Bones' Star Mina Starsiak and Her Husband Steve Hawk Prove Strong Relationships Take Work," 11 July 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

6 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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