Definition of hansel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhan(t)səl/
(also handsel) archaic or US


1A gift given for good luck at the beginning of the year or to mark an acquisition or the start of an enterprise.
Example sentences
  • This gathering of songs from the Angus-bred singer and fret player from Scots band Malinky is more an assertion of personal identity than a hansel to the glens, Mearns and tenacious coastal townships of his youth.
  • They come on the New Year's Eve, give handsels to children and arrange the party.
  • We donated handsels and small gifts to welfare children and promoted an end-of-the-year fund-raising campaign to support welfare organizations.
1.1The first installment of a payment.

verb (hansels, hanseling, hanseled ; British hansels, hanselling, hanselled)

[with object]
1Give a hansel to.
Example sentences
  • 2006 was hanselled with the reappearance of two old friends: the Skye Bridge and the Scottish Parliament construction project.
  • The younger men had "hanselled" their good bargain overwell, and were laughing and talking freely, as they walked up the white road from the haven.
  • Incidentally, the practice of putting some coins in a purse or wallet you buy for someone is called hanselling.
1.1Inaugurate (something), especially by being the first to try it: a floodlit fixture to officially hansel the completed stadium
More example sentences
  • His first chance comes on Tuesday when he hansels the new parliament with a speech outlining the Executive's legislative plans.
  • There were 2632 days between the Accies last game in May 1994 at the old Douglas Park in Hamilton and yesterday's hanseling of the club's new Ballast Stadium with a match against a Sunderland XI.
  • Iain is delighted to have the honour of hanseling the new facilities, and believes it will be an important resource for the island.


Middle English (denoting luck): apparently related to late Old English handselen 'giving into a person's hands', and Old Norse handsal 'giving of the hand to seal a promise', from hand + an element related to sell; the notion of 'luck', however, is not present in these words.

Words that rhyme with hansel

cancel, Hänsel, Mansell

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: han·sel

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