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May 4, 2020
This week’s theme
Words related to the hand

This week’s words
handfast
repugnant
backhanded
ironfisted
dead hand

handfast
Previous week’s theme
Words to describe people
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A handshake signals the beginning (and end) of many human interactions. There’s something to be said about firmly clasping the hand of another and looking them in the eye to convey that human bond.

But no handshakes, at least for now. It’s hard to shake hands from six feet. There has been talk of doing away with handshakes for good, even when we don’t have to do social distancing. What can we switch to? A nod? Vulcan salute? Namaste? Curtsy? Bow?

Whether handshakes come back or not, the English language has dozens of terms and metaphors related to hands. This week we’ll see a handful of them.

handfast

PRONUNCIATION:
(HAND-fast)

MEANING:
noun: A contract or agreement, especially about a betrothal or marriage.
verb tr.: To engage to be married or to bind in wedlock.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English handf√¶sten (to pledge or betroth), from hand + fæstan (to fasten). Earliest documented use: 1275.

USAGE:
“The couple’s decision to be handfasted under the full moon is particularly blessed and by our lights very romantic.”
Dear Abby: I Agree with You; The Washington Post; Oct 13, 2002.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. -William Kingdon Clifford, mathematician and philosopher (4 May 1845-1879)

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