1

handsel

noun hand·sel \ ˈhan(t)-səl \

Definition of handsel

1 : a gift made as a token of good wishes or luck especially at the beginning of a new year
2 : something received first (as in a day of trading) and taken to be a token of good luck
3 a : a first installment : earnest money

handsel was our Word of the Day on 10/20/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of handsel in a Sentence

  1. gave little handsels to their houseguests on New Year's Day

Did You Know?

According to an old custom in the British Isles, the first Monday of the new year is Handsel Monday, a day to give a small gift or good luck charm to children or to those who have served you well. As long ago as the year 1200, English speakers were using the ancestor of handsel for any good luck charm, especially one given at the start of some new situation or condition. By the 1500s, traders were using handsel for the first cash they earned in the morning - to them, an omen of good things to follow. Nowadays, it can also be used for the first use or experience of something, especially when such a use gives a taste of things to come.

Origin and Etymology of handsel

Middle English hansell


2

handsel

verb

Definition of handsel

handseled or handselled; handseling or handselling play \ˈhan(t)-s(ə-)liŋ\
transitive verb
1 : to give a handsel to
2 : to inaugurate with a token or gesture of luck or pleasure
3 : to use or do for the first time

First Known Use of handsel

15th century



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