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A handclasp used to signify a pledge, such as a contract or marriage.
[From Middle English hondfast, past participle of hondfesten, to betroth, from Old Norse handfesta, to strike a bargain, pledge : hönd, hand + festa, to fasten, fix, affirm; see past- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. an agreement, esp of marriage, confirmed by a handshake
2. a firm grip
3. to betroth or marry (two persons or another person) by joining the hands
4. to grip with the hand
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
Archaic. a covenant or contract, esp. a betrothal, usu. completed by a handclasp.
[1150–1200; Middle English (past participle), earlier handfest < Scandinavian; fasten]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Past participle: handfasted
Collins English Verb Tables © HarperCollins Publishers 2011