handfast

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English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English hondfast, past participle of hondfesten 'to betroth', from Old Norse handfesta 'to strike a bargain, pledge', itself from hönd 'hand' + festa 'to fasten, fix, affirm' (compare see past- in Indo-European roots).

Noun[edit]

handfast (plural handfasts)

  1. (obsolete) A hold, grasp; custody, power of confining or keeping.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  2. (obsolete) A contract, agreement, covenant; specifically betrothal, espousal.
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

handfast (third-person singular simple present handfasts, present participle handfasting, simple past and past participle handfasted)

  1. (transitive) To pledge; to bind
  2. (transitive, Wicca) To betroth by joining hands, in order to allow cohabitation before the celebration of marriage; to marry provisionally.
    • (1820) When we are handfasted, as we term it, we are man and wife for a year and a day; that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, may call the priest to marry them for life; and this we call handfasting. - Sir Walter Scott, The Monastery

Adjective[edit]

handfast

  1. (obsolete) Fast by contract; betrothed by joining hands.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bale to this entry?)

Etymology 2[edit]

German Handfest, itself from Hand 'hand' + fest 'firm, strong'.

Adjective[edit]

handfast (comparative more handfast, superlative most handfast)

  1. (rare) Strong; steadfast.
Translations[edit]