handfast (plural handfasts)
- (obsolete) A hold, grasp; custody, power of confining or keeping.
- 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act I, scene v]:
- And the remembrancer of her to hold
The hand-fast to her lord. I have given him that
- (obsolete) A contract, agreement, covenant; specifically betrothal, espousal.
handfast (handfasts, present participle handfasting; past and past participle handfasted)
- (transitive) To pledge; to bind
- (transitive, Scotland, archaic or historical, except, Wicca) To betroth by join#Verb|joining hand#Noun|hands, in order to allow for cohabitation before the celebration of marriage; to marry provisionally.
- 1820 March, [Walter Scott], chapter XI, in The Monastery. A Romance. [...] In Three Volumes, volume II, Edinburgh: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […]; and for Archibald Constable and Co., and John Ballantyne, […], OCLC 892089409 ↗, pages 311–312 ↗:
- No, Sir Priest or Sir Preacher, Catherine is not my wife— [...] she is not my wife, but she is handfasted with me, and that makes her as honest a woman. [...] When we are handfasted, as we term it, we are man and wife for a year and a day—that space gone by, each may chuse another mate, or, at their pleasure, may call the priest to marry them for life—and this we call handfasting.
- (obsolete) Fast by contract; betrothed by joining hands.
- (rare) Strong; steadfast.