From Middle English, from Old English handful (“handful”), from Proto-Germanic *handfullan, *handfullō, *handfulljô (“handful”), from Proto-Germanic *handuz (“hand”), *fullaz (“full”), equivalent to hand + full (“fullness, plenty”). Cognate with West Frisian hânfol (“handful”), Dutch handvol (“handful”), Danish håndfuld (“handful”), Swedish handfull (“handfull”), Icelandic handfylli (“handful”).
handful (plural handfuls or handsful)
- As much as the hand will grasp or contain. - Joseph Addison
- (obsolete) A hand's breadth; four inches.
- Knap the tongs together about a handful from the bottom. - Francis Bacon
- A small quantity, usually approximately equal to five, the number of fingers on a hand.
- This handful of men were tied to very hard duty. - Fuller
- Something which can only be managed with difficulty.
- Those twins are a real handful to look after.
Derived terms 
- To have one's handful: (Obsolete): to have one's hands full; to have all one can do.
- They had their handful to defend themselves from firing. - Sir Walter Raleigh
Related terms 
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