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    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    a handful of

    Dear teachers,

    When I read the English version of the V.Katayew’s “The Flag” I stumbled across the expression “a handful of”. I know that the suffix –"ful" can form nouns denoting the amount required to fill something. Hence a handful means the quantity that will fill the hand; a spoonful is as much as a spoon can hold; a mouthful is as much as can be put into the mouth easily at one time; a basketful is the quantity that will fill a basket.

    When used figuratively a handful means a small number (of persons, in the persent case “Soviet seamen”).

    “The island was completely surrounded by enemy ships. All communications with the main Soviet forces were cut off. For more than a month, a handful of courageous Soviet seamen had been defending this little fortress from the continuous attacks of the German navy and air force.”

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with the interpretation of the expression in question?

    Thank you for your efforts.



  1. IvanV's Avatar

    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 576
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    Re: a handful of

    That's correct. Small, undefined number.

    Tricky word, seamen...


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