Definition of handkerchief in English:



  • A square of cotton or other finely woven material intended for wiping one's nose.

    • ‘My nose had started running again, so I was armed with several handkerchiefs and blowing my nose profusely as we entered the dining room.’
    • ‘Now, however, he was too ill to notice it - how the people in the car began to gasp and sputter, to put handkerchiefs to their noses, and transfix him with furious glances.’
    • ‘Many tears were wiped in silk handkerchiefs yesterday morning, a few steps from the very popular Saint-Denis market.’
    • ‘Then we're all walking north - thousands of us, holding handkerchiefs to noses, coughing, a few in tears.’
    • ‘With the temperature in the high 80s that day, many people were carrying handkerchiefs to wipe their hands and faces.’
    • ‘As late as the 1700s in certain parts of Europe, people of low birth were not allowed to blow their nose on handkerchiefs.’
    • ‘He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped some ice cream that had gotten on my cheek.’
    • ‘She only managed a muffled squeak as he roughly shoved a handkerchief up to her nose.’
    • ‘He looked concerned, but she had no idea what he was saying as he offered her his handkerchief to wipe away the tears.’
    • ‘Then he turned off the tap and took out a handkerchief and wiped his face.’
    • ‘He sits repeatedly wiping his nose on his handkerchief, and then spreading it out on his lap like a napkin.’
    • ‘Few of the volunteers caught colds, and those that did blew their noses into paper handkerchiefs, which were then weighed and counted.’
    • ‘You put your hand in your pocket, and you took up a handkerchief, and you wiped my prints off the blade.’
    • ‘He took a handkerchief and wiped Rebecca's face also then sat down on the ledge next to her.’
    • ‘Both of them soaked their handkerchiefs in water and wiped around their faces and necks.’
    • ‘I blew my nose in a napkin and blew my nose again on his handkerchief.’
    • ‘He handed her a handkerchief and she wiped her eyes and face in between her sobs.’
    • ‘I watched as people cried, taking out handkerchiefs and trying to wipe their tears.’
    • ‘His eyes began to dart back and forth and he took out a handkerchief and wiped his brow.’
    • ‘I delve into my pocket and pull out my handkerchief to wipe away some of the sweat dripping down my face.’
    pocket handkerchief
    tissue, paper handkerchief
    corah, malabar, pullicate
    hanky, nose rag, snot rag
    nose-wiper, sneezer, wipe, wiper
    clout, muckender, monteith, fogle, foulard, stook, barcelona
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from hand + kerchief.