Linen handkerchief

A handkerchief (f/; also called a hankie or, historically, a handkercher) is a form of a kerchief or bandanna, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric or paper which can be carried in the pocket or handbag, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose. A handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket; it is then called a pocket square. It is also an important accessory in many folkdances in many regions like the Balkans and the Middle East; an example of a folkdance using handkerchiefs is Kalamatianos.

Modern usage

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

Handkerchiefs are also used as an impromptu way to carry around small items when a bag or basket is unavailable. They could also serve as a substitute for a bandage over a small injury. In the United Kingdom, the habit of wearing a handkerchief with tied corners on one's head at the beach has become a seaside postcard stereotype.

Signals may also be sent by handkerchief, such as the American LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) handkerchief codes. In Spanish football or in bullfighting, it is a common sight to see supporters waving white handkerchiefs as an expression of deep emotion. It is used both positively, in admiration of an exceptional performance by a team or player, or as a negative sign of disgust at an especially bad performance.

From the late 18th century white handkerchiefs were waved, generally by women (men usually waved their hats), to demonstrate approval at public events such as processions or political rallies.[1][2]

Using handkerchiefs to accentuate hand movements while dancing is a feature of both West African and African-American traditional dance, in the latter case especially in wedding celebrations.[3] Handkerchiefs are also traditional accoutrements in certain kinds of English folk dance, such as the Morris dance.

Besides their intended use, they could be used for cleaning equipment, polishing shoes, cleaning hands and face, signalling for attention, as a sweat band, neckerchief, as protection from dust inhalation, to repair footwear, cut out pieces to patch clothes, cut up as emergency firearms cleaning patches, Molotov cocktail wick (fire-bomb), hot cooking utensil holder, a makeshift bandage, tourniquet, or arm sling.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sakdoek
العربية: منديل
български: Носна кърпа
Boarisch: Socktiachl
brezhoneg: Mouchouer-godell
català: Mocador
čeština: Kapesník
Deutsch: Taschentuch
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Fasulèt
español: Pañuelo
Esperanto: Naztuko
euskara: Zapi
français: Mouchoir
贛語: 手㡤
한국어: 손수건
հայերեն: Թաշկինակ
हिन्दी: रूमाल
Bahasa Indonesia: Saputangan
italiano: Fazzoletto
עברית: מטפחת
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಕರವಸ್ತ್ರ
Kiswahili: Leso
kurdî: Çiftexas
Кыргызча: Бет аарчы
Lëtzebuergesch: Nuesschnappech
magyar: Zsebkendő
مصرى: مناديل
Nederlands: Zakdoek
日本語: ハンカチ
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ରୁମାଲ
português: Lenço
română: Batistă
sicilianu: Muccaturi
Simple English: Handkerchief
ślůnski: Taszyntuch
српски / srpski: Марамица
Basa Sunda: Carécét
suomi: Nenäliina
svenska: Näsduk
తెలుగు: రుమాలు
Türkçe: Mendil
українська: Носова хустка
粵語: 手巾
中文: 手絹