a handful

handful

Something or someone that is difficult to manage. Joan's daughter is very polite and well-behaved, but her son is a real handful, always getting into trouble. This project seemed easy at first but it has become a real handful, and I'm not sure I'm going to finish by the deadline.

*a handful

Fig. someone, often a child, who is difficult to deal with. (*Typically: be ~ become ~.) Bobby can be a real handful when he needs a nap.
See also: handful
References in classic literature ?
We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply
We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation,--and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state--and therefore, we have no excuse to tender for presenting ourselves before your Majesty--"
We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation, and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state
I never heard a sailor proclaiming himself as a handful of American citizens traveling for recreation, but I wished he might trip and fall overboard, and so reduce his handful by one individual, at least.
The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and threw them upon the stage.
So she made a fire on her hearth, and that it might burn the quicker, she lighted it with a handful of straw.
Gathering up a handful of dust and scattering it in the air, he slowly and solemnly pronounced some words that sounded like a charm, the children looking on in awe-struck silence:--
He noted the extreme care which the woman took that none of the matter should touch her hands, and once when a particle spattered upon one of her fingers he saw her plunge the member into a vessel of water and quickly rub the tiny stain away with a handful of leaves.
If the woman would only leave her work for an instant he could drop down, gather up a handful, and be back in the tree again before she drew three breaths.
But no, these must be only a handful of scoundrels.
A strange name wakes up memories; the printed words scent the smoky atmosphere of to-day faintly, with the subtle and penetrating perfume as of land breezes breathing through the starlight of bygone nights; a signal fire gleams like a jewel on the high brow of a sombre cliff; great trees, the advanced sentries of immense forests, stand watchful and still over sleeping stretches of open water; a line of white surf thunders on an empty beach, the shallow water foams on the reefs; and green islets scattered through the calm of noonday lie upon the level of a polished sea, like a handful of emeralds on a buckler of steel.
Here, surrounded by a handful of the faithful, the hekkador of the ancient faith, who had once been served by millions of vassals and dependents, dispensed the spiritual words among the half dozen nations of Barsoom that still clung tenaciously to their false and discredited religion.
Beyond were a handful of guards, laughing and talking over one of their incomprehensible Barsoomian games.
A handful of thern warriors stood just behind the little party.
As of Sunday, a handful of Twitter users verified that they'd been wired lump sums toward their tuition from Minaj.