Share this entry

handfast Line breaks: hand|fast
Pronunciation: /ˈhan(d)fɑːst/

Definition of handfast in English:


[with object]
Engage (someone) to be married: she was handfasted to my older brother Lewis they had been handfasted when they were but twelve years old
More example sentences
  • Despite his doubts, when Gemma faces deceipt and danger, Drummond handfasts with her.
  • I have a wonderful man who loves me, and we were handfasted this past Summer.
  • Let those who would love one another, and would be as one and bear child, be handfasted.


Back to top  
An engagement or marriage contract: the only thing that can undo a handfast is a lack of love
More example sentences
  • Handfasts were common in Tudor England.
  • In the Lake District in the sixteenth century a handfast was supposed to last no longer than a year and a day.
  • He was the offspring of a handfast union.


Late Old English: from Old Norse handfesta 'strike a bargain by joining hands'.

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources