A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakespeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails in our own day -- an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.
A piece of cloth, usually square and often fine and elegant, carried for wiping the face or hands.
A piece of cloth shaped like a handkerchief to be worn about the neck; a neckerchief; a neckcloth.