Definition of hansel in English:


Syllabification: han·sel
Pronunciation: /ˈhansəl
(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.
    More 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] Back to top  
  • 1Give a hansel to.
    More 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.

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Pronunciation: skōSH
a small amount; a little