7 Annotations

First Reading

Phil Gyford  •  Link

From Terry's annotation here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition uses a lot of other words for what seems to be “to inaugurate”.

hand·sel :
NOUN: 1. Chiefly British A gift to express good wishes at the beginning of a new year or enterprise. 2. The first money or barter taken in, as by a new business or on the opening day of business, especially when considered a token of good luck. 3a. A first payment. b. A specimen or foretaste of what is to come.
TRANSITIVE VERB:.Inflected forms: hand·seled or hand·selled, hand·sel·ing or hand·sel·ling, hand·sels or hand·sels
1. To give a handsel to. 2. To launch with a ceremonial gesture or gift. 3. To do or use for the first time.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English hanselle, from Old English handselen, a handing over ( hand, hand + selen, gift)and from Old Norse handsal, legal transfer ( hand, hand + sal, a giving).

Phil Gyford  •  Link

From Bradford's annotation here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…

In 1975, to honor the Queen Mother’s 75th birthday, Benjamin Britten set texts by Robert Burns as a cycle for voice and harp, called “A Birthday Hansel” (Op. 92). The British CD company Chandos explains that “A ‘hansel’, or ‘handsel’, is a small gift given at the beginning of a year to wish the recipient good luck,” suggesting the word is archaic enough to be unfamiliar to today’s classical music listeners, in Britain or elsewhere.

Does L&M give this final sentence with “carrying” where syntax in any era requires “carried”? That weird usage, added to the repetition of “new pair,” suggests a writer momentarily interrupted at his task. Perhaps he was distracted by the little black dog?

Phil Gyford  •  Link

From Dirk's annotation here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…


Websters Dictionary gives the following:

1. A sale, gift, or delivery into the hand of another; especially, a sale, gift, delivery, or using which is the first of a series, and regarded as on omen for the rest; a first installment; an earnest; as the first money received for the sale of goods in the morning, the first money taken at a shop newly opened, the first present sent to a young woman on her wedding day, etc. “Their first good handsel of breath in this world.” (Fuller) “Our present tears here, not our present laughter, Are but the handsels of our joys hereafter.” (Herrick)

2. Price; payment. Handsel Monday, the first Monday of the new year, when handsels or presents are given to servants, children, etc.

Origin: OE. Handsal, hansal, hansel, AS. Handslena giving into hands, or more prob. Fr. Icel. Handsal; hand hand + sal sale, bargain; akin to AS. Sellan to give, deliver. See Sell, Sale.


Phil Gyford  •  Link

From Dreamalittle's annotation here: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…

The OED entry for ‘handsel, v.’ (citations removed for brevity) reads:

1. trans. To give handsel to (a person); to present with, give, or offer, something auspicious at the commencement of the year or day, the beginning of an enterprise, etc.; to inaugurate the new year to (any one) with gifts, or the day to (a dealer) by being his first customer; to present with earnest-money or a luck-penny in auspication of an engagement or bargain.

2. To inaugurate with some ceremony or observance of an auspicious nature; to auspicate.

b. fig. (ironical).

3. To inaugurate the use of; to use for the first time; to be the first to test, try, prove, taste.

Hence handselling vbl. n.


I suspect that Sam had definition 2b in mind.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

HANSEL, the Money taken upon the first Part sold of Commodity, or first in a Morning.
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

HANDSEL, The first act of using any thing, the first act of sale.
To HANDSEL To use or do any thing the first time.
---A Dictionary Of The English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1756.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"A ‘hansel’, or ‘handsel’, is a small gift given at the beginning of a year to wish the recipient good luck ... "

"Handsel Monday, the first Monday of the new year, when handsels or presents are given to servants, children, etc."

Without years and examples of usage, it's impossible to know if this means the beginning of January (modern) or the end of March/early April (medieval). And Pepys was writing in the middle of this change over.

Fortunately Pepys doesn't use 'handsel' with this meaning, so it's a non-issue for us.

Bill's 2 examples from the 18th century makes me think handsel gifts at the March/April New Year was a medieval tradition.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


VERB 1. Give a hansel to.

2. Inaugurate (something), especially by being the first to try it.

NOUN 1. A gift given for good luck at the beginning of the year or to mark an acquisition or the start of an enterprise.

2. The first installment of a payment.

This word "hansel" (sometimes spelled "handsel") comes from the Old Norse word "handsal," which means "giving of the hand to seal a promise."

Old Norse, 14th century

according to https://worddaily.com/words/hanse…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.