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[hang-ker-chif, -cheef] /ˈhæŋ kər tʃɪf, -ˌtʃif/
a small piece of linen, silk, or other fabric, usually square, and used especially for wiping one's nose, eyes, face, etc., or for decorative purposes.
a neckerchief or kerchief.
Origin of handkerchief
1520-30; hand + kerchief Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for handkerchief
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But while he was saying “courage,” he was pressing his handkerchief on the wound.

    Cuore (Heart) Edmondo De Amicis
  • Let it go and tuck in your handkerchief like the rest of us.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • I did him up in my handkerchief, but that did not suit him at all.

  • He said, 'Throw your handkerchief to whichever of us you love.'

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • While the jug of water and the handkerchief are being exhibited the pack of cards is on the table.

    Water Wizardry Arthur Ainslie
British Dictionary definitions for handkerchief


/ˈhæŋkətʃɪf; -tʃiːf/
a small square of soft absorbent material, such as linen, silk, or soft paper, carried and used to wipe the nose, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for handkerchief

1520s, from hand + kerchief "cloth for covering the head." Thus it is a one-word contradiction in terms. By-form handkercher was in use 16c.-19c. A dropped handkerchief as a token of flirtation or courtship is attested by mid-18c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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handkerchief in the Bible

Only once in Authorized Version (Acts 19:12). The Greek word (sudarion) so rendered means properly "a sweat-cloth." It is rendered "napkin" in John 11:44; 20:7; Luke 19:20.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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