a gift made as a token of good wishes or luck
money given by a buyer to a seller to bind a bargain
Having signed the papers and handed over the agreed-upon handsel of $200, Caroline was now the proud owner of a small sailing skiff.
Did you know?
According to an old custom in the British Isles, the first Monday of the new year is Handsel Monday, a day to give a small gift or good luck charm to children or to those who have served you well. As long ago as the year 1200, English speakers were using the ancestor of “handsel” for any good luck charm, especially one given at the start of some new situation or condition. By the 1500s, traders were using “handsel” for the first cash they earned in the morning — to them, an omen of good things to follow. Nowadays, it can also be used for the first use or experience of something, especially when such a use gives a taste of things to come.