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A sort of marriage. A fair was at one time held in Dumfriesshire, at which a young man was allowed to pick out a female companion to live with him. They lived together for twelve months, and if they both liked the arrangement were man and wife. This was called hand-fasting or hand-fastening.

This sort of contract was common among the Romans and Jews, and is not unusual in the East even now.

“‘Knowest thou not that rite, holy man?ʹ said A venel … .; ‘then I will tell thee. We bordermen … . take our wives for a year and a day; that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, [they] may call the priest to marry them for life, and this we call handfasting.ʹ”—Sir W. Scott: The Monastery, chap. xxv.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Hand-post (A)
Hand Round (To)
Hand and Glove (They are)
Hand and Seal
Hand of Cards
Hand of Justice
Hand over Hand
Hand the Sail
Hand Down to Posterity (To)
Handkerchief and Sword
Handsome = liberal
Handwriting on the Wall (The)
Hang Back (To)
Hang Fire (To)
Hang On (To)