Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small square of cloth used especially for wiping the nose or mouth.
  • n. A large piece of cloth worn as a decorative article; a scarf.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of cloth, usually square and often fine and elegant, carried for wiping the face, eyes, nose or hands.
  • n. A piece of cloth shaped like a handkerchief to be worn about the neck; a neckerchief or neckcloth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A piece of cloth, usually square and often fine and elegant, carried for wiping the face or hands.
  • n. A piece of cloth shaped like a handkerchief to be worn about the neck; a neckerchief; a neckcloth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A square piece of cloth, usually linen or silk, carried about the person for the purpose of wiping the face or nose.
  • n. A neckcloth: a neckerchief.
  • To use a handkerchief; make signals with a handkerchief.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a square piece of cloth used for wiping the eyes or nose or as a costume accessory

Etymologies

From hand +‎ kerchief. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Although I have spoken Romanian for decades, it was only while talking with Oskar Pastior that I realized that the Romanian word for handkerchief is batistă.

    Herta Müller - Nobel Lecture

  • The drawer was a family portrait in handkerchief format.

    Herta Müller - Nobel Lecture

  • Pantyhose are the funniest when you have to assit. they just keep coming, like the handkerchief from the clown's mouth.

    The Gun Dog Ate My Sock

  • With his left hand he pulled a large white handkerchief from the pocket of his black coat, and with it he wiped off the knife and his gloved right hand which had been holding it; then he put the handkerchief away.

    Excerpt: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

  • The way of carrying money in the corner of a pocket-handkerchief is still common.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Whenever a lamp flashed in at us, I had a glimpse of her progress toward composure -- now she was drying her eyes with the bit of lace she called a handkerchief; now her bare arms were up, and with graceful fingers she was arranging her hair; now she was straight and still, the soft, fluffy material with which her wrap was edged drawn close about her throat.

    Ainslee's, Vol. 15, No. 5, June 1905

  • She checked her sobs, wiped her eyes with a morsel of lace she called a handkerchief, and, sweeping in a stately manner to the door, said, with the extreme of patrician hauteur:

    Nell, of Shorne Mills or, One Heart's Burden

  • The cow-boy then took out an old dirty rag, which I suppose he called a handkerchief, unfolded it, and produced three cards, saying, "Them thar fellows gave me these ar cards, and I'm going to larn that ar game, so as when I get back to Texas I can beat all the boys."

    Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi

  • I tried to shield my face with my fan and at last regained my composure, and tried, in sly fashion, to dry my eyes with the bit of lace I called my handkerchief, and which I found a very poor substitute for the substantial lawn hitherto used.

    Medoline Selwyn's Work

  • Her arms were bare, and a muslin handkerchief was folded across her chest.

    The House of Arden

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