• WordNet 3.6
    • n handkerchief a square piece of cloth used for wiping the eyes or nose or as a costume accessory
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Before soccer referees started using whistles in 1878, they used to rely on waving a handkerchief
    • Handkerchief A piece of cloth shaped like a handkerchief to be worn about the neck; a neckerchief; a neckcloth.
    • Handkerchief A piece of cloth, usually square and often fine and elegant, carried for wiping the face or hands.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: The handkerchief had been used by the Romans, who ordinarily wore two handkerchiefs: one on the left wrist and one tucked in at the waist or around the neck. In the fifteenth century, the handkerchief was for a time allowed only to the nobility; special laws were made to enforce this. The classical heritage was rediscovered during the Renaissance.
    • n handkerchief A square piece of cloth, usually linen or silk, carried about the person for the purpose of wiping the face or nose. Silk handkerchiefs embroidered and fringed, or laced with gold, are mentioned as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the modern lace handkerchief has often but a very small center-piece of solid or plain material.
    • n handkerchief A neckcloth: a neckerchief.
    • handkerchief To use a handkerchief; make signals with a handkerchief.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: George Anthiel composed film scores, but earlier in his life he had been an avant garde composer. In 1924 his "Ballet mecanique" was performed at Carnegie Hall. The work was scored for a fire siren, automobile horns, and an airplane propeller. After only a few minutes of this racket, an aging gentleman in the orchestra seats tied his handkerchief to his cane and began waving a white flag.
    • n Handkerchief hang′kėr-chif a piece of linen, silk, or cotton cloth for wiping the nose, &c.: a neckerchief
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Hand, + kerchief,


In literature:

Miss Aline was sitting with her handkerchief to her eyes when Patsy sat down beside her.
"Patsy" by S. R. Crockett
Fort was commanding Ila to pick up his handkerchief.
"The Californians" by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
He moistened his handkerchief, and gingerly dabbed the girl's forehead.
"The Lion's Mouse" by C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson
Stonewall Jackson held higher his wounded hand, wrapped in a handkerchief no longer white.
"The Long Roll" by Mary Johnston
Behind it was a face masked by a bandana handkerchief.
"Oh, You Tex!" by William Macleod Raine
We replied to them by attaching a white handkerchief to the top of our mast.
"Perils and Captivity" by Charlotte-Adélaïde [née Picard] Dard
They waved their handkerchiefs and caps, and held out their hands imploringly towards us.
"Old Jack" by W.H.G. Kingston
I fastened my handkerchief through Surley's collar to keep him back.
"A Voyage round the World" by W.H.G. Kingston
Spite of the fact that the sun's rays did not penetrate to the spot which he occupied, the white handkerchief was still used as a shade.
"The Youth of Jefferson" by Anonymous
A thin silk handkerchief was over the end, so that the light was quite dim.
"The Rover Boys Under Canvas" by Arthur M. Winfield
She pressed a handkerchief against the little dancer's forehead, and it was stained with blood.
"The History of Sir Richard Calmady" by Lucas Malet
Perhaps, though, the handkerchief had been borrowed.
"Chicken Little Jane" by Lily Munsell Ritchie
A handkerchief of pure white cambric with a tiny monogram also in white was then shaken out and presented.
"The Man Who Lost Himself" by H. De Vere Stacpoole
He had white trousers, long Hessian boots, and, as usual, the Madras handkerchief on his head.
"The Hour and the Man" by Harriet Martineau
The handkerchief was now nearly consumed, and when the last spark faded away, the catamount came on more determinedly than ever.
"The Camp in the Snow" by William Murray Graydon
This is played the same as drop the handkerchief except a flower is used instead of a handkerchief and the verse is a trifle different.
"Games For All Occasions" by Mary E. Blain
When could M. de Bois have dropped this handkerchief there?
"Fairy Fingers" by Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
In the meantime, Deck tied up the worst wound of the prisoner with his handkerchief, and did what he could to stop the flow of blood.
"A Lieutenant at Eighteen" by Oliver Optic
Protestingly he followed, and lent a hand at tying up the leg with the girl's handkerchief.
"Crooked Trails and Straight" by William MacLeod Raine
It was what had been used to muffle his cries, and he saw it was a handkerchief.
"The Rider of Waroona" by Firth Scott

In poetry:

I wore it Sunday to the Mass.
The other girls wore handkerchiefs.
I saw them darkly watch and pass,
With sullen smiles, with hidden griefs.
"The Hat" by Robert W Service
And it might be worse if you came with me,
For all of Allah's Chosen would desire you.
And if Mahomet threw his handkerchief
And took you up and loved you for himself?
"Paradise" by Edward Powys Mathers
And life recedes, recedes; the curve is bare,
My handkerchief flutters blankly in the air;
And the question rumbles in the void:
Was she aware, was she after all aware?
"Valedictory" by Aldous Huxley
Having made ample use of the treacherous juice,
Which some folks say stings like an adder,
They went back again at the handkerchief men,
Who slowly got madder and madder.
"The Blue And Gray" by Eugene Field
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?
"A child said, What is the grass?" by Walt Whitman
Come you of the law, who can talk, if you please,
Till the man in the moon will allow it’s a cheese,
And leave “the old lady, that never tells lies,”
To sleep with her handkerchief over her eyes.
"Lines -- for Berkshire Jubilee, Aug. 23, 1844" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In news:

Valentino looked dapper in a pin-striped suit, which he paired with a blue tie and handkerchief.
Make Mom a monogrammed handkerchief she can keep in her purse.
In fact, of its table linens, handkerchiefs, children's clothes, blouses, lingerie, pillowcases and curtains, only the initialed handkerchiefs - and linens imported from the Far East - is embroidered by hand.
Each serving will consist of about 8 handkerchiefs and 3 jumbo shrimp.
Decode the Meaning of Handkerchief Flirtations.
" When Romney wiped the sweat of his brow, Raab said, "he did the same thing Nixon did — took out his handkerchief.".
We missed this last week, but there's a whole conspiracy theory about the mano vs mano handkerchief and water bottle throwdown that occurred at the GOP rally in Parma a few weeks ago.
Just after 6 o'clock, early in the evening of May 10, 1864, near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, a Union officer waved a handkerchief.
It's going to be a two- or three-handkerchief event.
Martha shares a simple way to protect a refreshing summertime beverage from unwanted bugs and debris with weighted handkerchiefs.
Brandon Blackwell, The Plain Dealer Richard Brysac of Parma stuffs a handkerchief in the mouth of protester Al Neal at a July 5 GOP rally at Kentown Plaza in Parma.
Neal removed the handkerchief and continued chanting until the group of protesters was escorted from the rally .
If audiences are giving a standing ovation while critics are rushing from the theater with handkerchiefs over their mouths, it must be the Sundance Film Festival.
Ghana's new trade law forbids secondhand boxers, handkerchiefs, and mattresses from entering the country's docks or markets, on the grounds that such imports are, well, gross.
His stomach contracted as he fell back against the wall and clamped a silk handkerchief to his gaping mouth, just barely smothering the high-pitched whinny threatening to escape.