handful hand"ful (h[a^]nd"f[.u]l), n.; pl. {handfuls} (h[a^]nd"f[.u]lz). [AS. handfull.] 1. As much as the hand will grasp or contain. --Addison. [1913 Webster]

2. A hand's breadth; four inches. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

Knap the tongs together about a handful from the bottom. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

3. A small quantity or number. [1913 Webster]

This handful of men were tied to very hard duty. --Fuller. [1913 Webster]

4. A person, task, or situation, which is the most that one can manage; as, my two-year-old is a handful. [PJC]

{To have one's handful}, to have one's hands full; to have all one can do. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

They had their handful to defend themselves from firing. --Sir. W. Raleigh. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • handful — (n.) O.E. handful; see HAND (Cf. hand) (n.) + FUL (Cf. ful). Originally the quality that can be held in a hand; also a medieval linear measurement of four inches. Meaning a small portion or part is from c.1400. Figurative meaning as much as one… …   Etymology dictionary

  • handful — [hand′fool΄] n. pl. handfuls [ME < OE handfull] 1. as much or as many as the hand will hold 2. a relatively small number or amount [a mere handful of people] 3. Informal as much as one is able to manage; someone or something hard to manage …   English World dictionary

  • handful — has the plural form handfuls. See ful …   Modern English usage

  • handful — [adj] a small quantity few, scattering, small number, smattering, some, spattering, sprinkling; concept 789 Ant. lot, mass …   New thesaurus

  • handful — ► NOUN 1) a quantity that fills the hand. 2) a small number or amount. 3) informal a person who is difficult to deal with or control …   English terms dictionary

  • handful — noun 1 amount that can be held in one hand ADJECTIVE ▪ good ▪ double ▪ She bent and pulled up a double handful of weeds. PREPOSITION ▪ handful of …   Collocations dictionary

  • handful — hand|ful [ˈhændful] n 1.) an amount that you can hold in your hand handful of ▪ The boy picked up a handful of stones and started throwing them at us. 2.) a handful of sth a very small number of people or things ▪ There were only a handful of… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • handful — [[t]hæ̱ndfʊl[/t]] handfuls 1) N SING: usu N of n A handful of people or things is a small number of them. He surveyed the handful of customers at the bar... One spring morning a handful of potential investors assembled in Quincy. 2) N COUNT: usu… …   English dictionary

  • handful */*/ — UK [ˈhæn(d)fʊl] / US [ˈhæn(d)ˌfʊl] noun Word forms handful : singular handful plural handfuls 1) [singular] a very small number of people or things The game was dominated by a handful of players. 2) [countable] the quantity of something that you… …   English dictionary

  • handful — noun 1 (C) an amount that you can hold in your hand (+ of): a handful of nuts 2 a handful of a very small number of people or things: Only a handful of countries have implemented these regulations. 3 a handful informal someone, especially a child …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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