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 Trying to measure this shifting landscape with the same methodology that was created when only a handful of television networks existed has proven to be a recipe for failure. Brad Adgate, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 But there were very few incidents on Saturday and only a handful of arrests. NBC News, 21 Sep. 2021 Reynolds now stands as the state’s poster child for how only a handful of infections can trigger widespread quarantines and even a school shutdown. oregonlive, 21 Sep. 2021 Because the agency requires that rapid tests return results that are comparable to PCR tests, only a handful are now available for home use. Daniel P. Oran, STAT, 20 Sep. 2021 Only a handful of starters are likely to reach the 200-inning threshold, whereas 15 starters got there in 2019, the last 162-game season. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, 17 Sep. 2021 Only a handful of charter services allow dogs on board. Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2021 The school system has reported only a handful of COVID cases this school year and last year. Ruth Serven Smith | Rserven@al.com, al, 17 Sep. 2021 Only a handful of the 46 names on the replacement ballot had public recognition, but most failed to gain traction with voters. Kathleen Ronayne, Michael R. Blood, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near handful

hand frame


hand gallop

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Statistics for handful

Last Updated

24 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Handful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handful. Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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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
: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on handful

Nglish: Translation of handful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handful for Arabic Speakers


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