handfast (plural handfasts)

  1. (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
  2. (obsolete) A contract, agreement, covenant; specifically betrothal, espousal.
Translations Verb

handfast (handfasts, present participle handfasting; past and past participle handfasted)

  1. (transitive) To pledge; to bind
  2. (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.
  1. (obsolete) Fast by contract; betrothed by joining hands.


  1. (rare) Strong; steadfast.

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