[hang-ker-chif, -cheef]
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.

1520–30; hand + kerchief

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1530, from hand + kerchief "cloth for covering the head" (see kerchief). Thus it is a one-word contradiction in terms.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Handkerchief definition

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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Example sentences
Use a mask, handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth.
Extending himself upward, he slings a handkerchief over the exhaust stack of his late-model diesel rig.
Some of the collapsible hats can be squeezed into a handkerchief satchel, while
  four could be placed in a small hat bag.
One audience member reportedly attached a white handkerchief to the end of his
  cane and waved it at the stage in mock surrender.
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