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handkerchief Line breaks: hand|ker¦chief
Pronunciation: /ˈhaŋkətʃɪf/

Definition of handkerchief in English:

noun (plural handkerchiefs or handkerchieves ˈhaŋkətʃiːvz)

A square of cotton or other finely woven material intended for wiping one’s nose.
Example sentences
  • He sits repeatedly wiping his nose on his handkerchief, and then spreading it out on his lap like a napkin.
  • I blew my nose in a napkin and blew my nose again on his handkerchief.
  • Now, however, he was too ill to notice it - how the people in the car began to gasp and sputter, to put handkerchiefs to their noses, and transfix him with furious glances.
Scottish & Northern English napkin;
Indian corah, Malabar, pullicate
informal, , datednose-wiper, sneezer, wipe, wiper
archaicclout, muckender, monteith, fogle, foulard, stook, Barcelona


Mid 16th century: from hand + kerchief.

  • kerchief from Middle English:

    The early spelling was kerchef, from Old French cuevrechief, from couvrir ‘to cover’ and chief ‘head’. It was formerly used to describe a woman's head-dress, a type of cloth covering over the hair. The word was used meaning ‘cloth’ as the second element of handkerchief from the mid 16th century.

Words that rhyme with handkerchief


Definition of handkerchief in:

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