hand·​ker·​chief | \ˈhaŋ-kər-chəf, -(ˌ)chif, -ˌchēf\
plural handkerchiefs also handkerchieves\ˈhaŋ-​kər-​chəfs, -​(ˌ)chifs, -​ˌchēvz, -​ˌchēfs, -​chəvz, -​(ˌ)chivz \

Definition of handkerchief 

1 : a small usually square piece of cloth used for usually personal purposes (such as blowing the nose) or as a clothing accessory

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Synonyms for handkerchief


babushka, bandanna (or bandana), do-rag, kerchief, madras, mantilla

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Examples of handkerchief in a Sentence

tied a handkerchief around her head and set about cleaning out the dust-covered attic usually dries her hands on her handkerchief when there are no towels available

Recent Examples on the Web

One litmus test for these campaigns recently arose in a Facebook post from Levi’s, in conjunction with its fifth Pride Collection, featuring an image of jeans with a rainbow handkerchief hanging from the back pocket. Savannah Eadens, chicagotribune.com, "Corporations need to ‘walk the walk’ before displaying Pride ads, LGBTQ Chicagoans say," 22 June 2018 Sofia Sierra, a 19-year-old student, arrived wearing a green handkerchief on her neck. Daniel Politi And Ralph Ellis, CNN, "Argentina's Congress debating whether to liberalize abortion laws," 13 June 2018 With everything from handkerchiefs to produce bags to reusable face pads, Etsy is heaven for vintage and homemade zero-waste items. Mandy Ferreira, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Places To Shop Online If You Want To Save Money And Live A Zero Waste Lifestyle," 24 Aug. 2017 The president, then 53, wears a double-breasted coat and pocket handkerchief. Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, "A newly discovered film shows Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had polio, walking," 27 June 2018 As for the rest of the menu, Perry Lang created a selection of dishes meant to be both indulgent and accessible: Lodge bread with French butter, goat cheese tartine, handkerchief pasta with Sunday gravy, shrimp cocktail and French onion soup. Jenn Harris, latimes.com, "A first look at APL, Adam Perry Lang's new Hollywood restaurant and meat palace," 9 May 2018 Lind fans could buy Jenny Lind dolls, gloves, scarves, and handkerchiefs. Nancy Baym, WIRED, "Book Excerpt: How Music Fans Built the Internet," 10 July 2018 Jennifer Busfield, 56, the owner of Z Line Lavender Farm in Rancho Murieta (Sacramento County), hand-stitches vintage handkerchiefs packaged with lavender locally grown at her family’s farm. Mandy Behbehani, San Francisco Chronicle, "Indie fashion lines band together with SF Bay Makers," 14 June 2018 Wolfe, presumably with hands in pockets, has pulled his pale jacket back to reveal the famed vestee, the wide damask tie skewered with a fancy cravat pin, pocket handkerchief fanning open like a magnolia in bloom. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Tom Wolfe: Remembering the Iconic Style of “The Man in the White Suit”," 15 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'handkerchief.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of handkerchief

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for handkerchief

The first known use of handkerchief was in 1530

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English Language Learners Definition of handkerchief

: a small cloth used for wiping your face, nose, or eyes


hand·​ker·​chief | \ˈhaŋ-kər-chəf \
plural handkerchiefs\-​chəfs \

Kids Definition of handkerchief

: a small usually square piece of cloth used for wiping the face, nose, or eyes

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