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[hand-foo l] /ˈhænd fʊl/

noun, plural handfuls.
the quantity or amount that the can hold:
a handful of coins.
a small amount, number, or quantity:
a handful of men.
Informal. a person or thing that is as much as one can manage or control:
The baby’s tantrums made him a handful.
noun (pl) -fuls
the amount or number that can be held in the hand
a small number or quantity
(informal) a person or thing difficult to manage or control

Old English handful; see hand (n.) + -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 can manage” is from 1755.


Related Terms

grab a handful of air


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