Share this entry

Share this page


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

Definition of handkerchief in English:

noun (plural handkerchiefs or handkerchieves /-tʃiːvz/)

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.
pocket handkerchief;
tissue, paper handkerchief
trademark Kleenex
Scottish & Northern English napkin;
Indian corah, Malabar, pullicate
informal hanky, nose rag, snot rag
informal , dated nose-wiper, sneezer, wipe, wiper
literary kerchief
archaic clout, muckender, monteith, fogle, foulard, stook, Barcelona


mid 16th century: from hand + kerchief.

Definition of handkerchief in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day jaunt
Pronunciation: dʒɔːnt
a short excursion or journey made for pleasure