noun, plural handfuls.
the quantity or amount that the hand can hold: a handful of coins.
a small amount, number, or quantity: a handful of men.
Informal. a person or thing that is as much as one can manage or control: The baby's tantrums made him a handful.

before 900; Middle English, Old English. See hand, -ful

See -ful.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
handful (ˈhændfʊl)
n , pl -fuls
1.  the amount or number that can be held in the hand
2.  a small number or quantity
3.  informal a person or thing difficult to manage or control

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
She starts by taking a small handful of fluff, which she molds into a starter
If all but a small handful of scientists agree with a particular conclusion, it
  is because that is what the evidence indicates.
Traditionally dolphin hunts have been isolated to a handful of small fishing
  towns, where dolphin meat is well liked.
It depicts a queen grasping a handful of small, doomed captives.
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