• A gift given for good luck at the beginning of the year or to mark an acquisition or the start of an enterprise. 
  • The first installment of a payment.


  • Give a hansel to. 
  • Inaugurate (something), especially by being the first to try it.

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Example Sentences

“My boss likes to welcome new team members with a hansel of a get-to-know-you lunch.”

“The hansel for your mortgage will be due on the 15th of next month.” 

“Let’s officially hansel the new amphitheater with a free concert for the community.”

Word Origin

Old Norse, 14th century

Why this word?

This word has nothing to do with the fairy tale of “Hansel and Gretel.” Instead, the word “hansel” (sometimes spelled “handsel”) comes from the Old Norse word “handsal,” which means “giving of the hand to seal a promise.” When it entered Middle English, it acquired a new usage as a gift given for good luck, and now it can be used as a noun for the thing given, or as a verb for the act of giving the hansel.

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