hand·​ker·​chief | \ ˈhaŋ-kər-chəf How to pronounce handkerchief (audio) , -(ˌ)chif, -ˌchēf \
plural handkerchiefs also handkerchieves\ ˈhaŋ-​kər-​chəfs How to pronounce handkerchieves (audio) , -​(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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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 Just shut up, take my money, hand me a handkerchief. Katie Hasty, EW.com, "Wonder Woman 1984, Fast & Furious 9, In the Heights: EW's most anticipated 2020 movies," 1 Jan. 2020 Over the last year, about four dozen red bandannas and photos were left for Welles Crowther, the 24-year-old equities trader who helped people escape while wearing a handkerchief as a mask. Corina Knoll, New York Times, "What Happens to Those Heartbreaking Tributes at the 9/11 Memorial," 9 Sep. 2019 And the white handkerchief, too, had left the darkness of the drawer. The Economist, "Obituary: Jan Ruff O’Herne died on August 19th," 5 Sep. 2019 Jennings pulled a white handkerchief from his pocket and raised it on the barrel of Papurt's carbine. oregonlive, "The first American woman in uniform captured by the Nazis: Veterans Day 2019," 11 Nov. 2019 Ruhlemann asked for donations of socks, hats, gloves, toiletries, toilet paper, handkerchiefs, deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste for the bags. Denise Coffey, courant.com, "St. John, Veterans Team Up For Blood Drive," 21 Oct. 2019 The artist's voice, a combination of baritone and lyric tenor, captivated audiences while his dress style of suits accented with bow ties, pocket handkerchiefs and silk scarves was copied at nightclubs across Latin America. chicagotribune.com, "Legendary Mexican singer José José dies from cancer," 29 Sep. 2019 Osborn had written his own obituary and planned every detail of the elaborate service, including the strict dress code: Men in dark suits with a gray or black tie and a white pocket handkerchief. Christopher Wynn, Dallas News, "Memorial service for Neiman Marcus stylemaker Derrill Osborn was as elegant and original as he was," 28 July 2019 Inherited china, colorful glass bowls, and thrifted handkerchiefs as napkins lend themselves to an easy-yet-sophisticated vibe. Sara Mae Albert, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Plan a Casual Chic Dinner Party," 2 Aug. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of handkerchief was in 1530

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Statistics for handkerchief

Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Handkerchief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handkerchief. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for handkerchief


How to pronounce handkerchief (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of handkerchief

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


hand·​ker·​chief | \ ˈhaŋ-kər-chəf How to pronounce handkerchief (audio) \
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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