One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A piece of fabric used to cover the head.
- ‘Earlier he had watched her draw the heavy damask drapes in the dining room, cover her head with a kerchief, and light the Sabbath candles, uttering the familiar prayer in a tone of rote and reverence.’
- ‘A veil, scarf, or kerchief may be suspended from the head and attached there with a headband or hairpins, or it may variably wrap the head, neck, and shoulders.’
- ‘At one point in the evening, the bride's veil is removed and replaced with a kerchief, symbolizing her change from maiden to married woman.’
- ‘Villagers wear everyday clothing fit for farming work: women wear flowery cotton or flannel dresses, and kerchiefs on their heads; men wear shirts and pants made of durable cloth, and caps or hats.’
- ‘A few minutes later my mother comes out of the store, kerchief covering her rollers and she slides into the driver's seat.’
- ‘My mom is extremely self-conscious about her hair loss and always wears a bandanna or kerchief to cover her head.’
- ‘Older women often wear a large kerchief or scarf over the head and tied under the chin.’
- ‘From the back, hundreds of women looked like my mother, bent kneeling with bowed heads, kerchiefs or chapel veils covering their heads.’
- ‘They usually cover their heads with a kerchief.’
- ‘In Coleman's impressive painting, she is adorned with a yellow kerchief, gold hoop earrings, and a necklace with a gold cross pendant.’
- ‘In summer, women wear white head coverings or brightly colored kerchiefs.’
- ‘Suddenly the kitchen door creaked open, and Ana walked in from outside, her hair pulled back under a kerchief.’
- ‘The women were all in beautifully embroidered blouses, brightly coloured circle skirts, neat aprons, and kerchiefs holding their light-coloured hair back from their faces.’
- ‘They were dressed completely in white, and the women's heads were covered with white kerchiefs, as well.’
- ‘No hats, combs, kerchiefs or anything but hair should be on your head.’
- ‘A woman with a grimy kerchief covering her salt-and-pepper hair barters over a sack of dried lentils with a tall merchant crowned with a scarlet turban.’
- ‘Her wiry gray hair curled from beneath the edges of a blue kerchief and a colorful fringed shawl was draped over her shoulders.’
- ‘Not all Muslim women wear a veil, but among those who do, styles vary wildly, from simple kerchiefs and elaborate head scarves to full face-and-body coverings.’
- ‘She turned around, face streaked with grime and hair dangling limply from beneath the kerchief, brandishing the duster.’
- ‘I saw women with wigs and long skirts, others with kerchiefs covering their hair, and others with no head covering and wearing pants.’
- 1.1literary A handkerchief.
- ‘I wiped the tears from my face with a kerchief he offered me.’
- ‘Sniffing, Hanna wiped at her face with her kerchief.’
- ‘But his prayers to Saint Veronica, who is credited with giving Jesus a kerchief to wipe his brow on the road to Golgotha, apparently go unanswered.’
- ‘He walked slowly towards Joe, wiping the back of his neck with his kerchief.’
- ‘My father beams, bows, wipes over his face with his kerchief, and bows again.’
Middle English kerchef, from Old French cuevrechief, from couvrir ‘to cover’ + chief ‘head’.
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