piece of cloth for personal use

A handkerchief /ˈhæŋkərɪf/, also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, usually made of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse. It was invented for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose.

Linen handkerchief

A handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket.

Modern usage change

The material of a handkerchief can be symbolic of the social-economic class of the user. It is not only because some materials are more expensive, but because some materials are more absorbent and useful for those who use a handkerchief for more than style. Handkerchiefs can be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.

Origin change

Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means “to cover,” and chef, which means “head.”

In the time of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today. But in the Middle Ages, kerchiefs were usually used to cover the head.

Other websites change

  Media related to Handkerchiefs at Wikimedia Commons