Definition of handfast in English:


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


[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'.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody