hand·​ker·​chief | \ ˈhaŋ-kər-chəf How to pronounce handkerchief (audio) , -(ˌ)chif, -ˌchēf \
plural handkerchiefs also handkerchieves\ ˈhaŋ-​kər-​chəfs How to pronounce handkerchief (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

Synonyms for handkerchief


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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 The carnation was gone; the dark gray of his suit, which appeared black in the dim light, was relieved only by the tiny Silver Star bar in his lapel and a corner of a white handkerchief peeking out from the breast pocket. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 4 Aug. 2021 Oh, and Angelo Auriana’s handkerchief egg pasta with pesto at Factory Kitchen—that dish is insane. David Hochman, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 Brown grabbed a handkerchief and held it on Ramsundar's wound. Diane Herbst, PEOPLE.com, 9 Sep. 2021 Kravitz was joined for the evening by Channing Tatum who wore a classic black tuxedo designed by Donatella Versace with patent shoes and a white handkerchief in his pocket. Naledi Ushe, PEOPLE.com, 17 Sep. 2021 Sirhan, who was in a blue prison uniform with a paper towel folded like a handkerchief and tucked into his pocket, smiled on Friday as Douglas Kennedy spoke at the Friday parole hearing. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, 27 Aug. 2021 Ted Freeman-Atwood, 90, rolled out of his tall brick nursing home in his wheelchair, wearing a blue tweed jacket with a white handkerchief peaking from its breast pocket. New York Times, 12 Aug. 2021 An employee of yhe Aerial Forest Protection Service of the Russian Federation puts a wet handkerchief on his head—an effective DIY protective against the dangers of wildfire smoke. Time, 26 Aug. 2021 If there’s smoke, keep your head low and cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or other article of clothing. Julia Ries, Condé Nast Traveler, 4 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near handkerchief



handkerchief dance

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Statistics for handkerchief

Last Updated

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Handkerchief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handkerchief. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for handkerchief



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

More from Merriam-Webster on handkerchief

Nglish: Translation of handkerchief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handkerchief for Arabic Speakers


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