A kerchief (from the French "couvre-chef", "cover the head") is a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head or around the neck for protective or decorative purposes. The popularity of head kerchiefs may vary by culture or religion, as among Amish women, Orthodox Jewish women, Muslim women, and older Slavic women.

A "handkerchief" or "hanky" primarily refers to a napkin made of cloth, used to dab away perspiration, clear the sinuses, or, in Victorian times, as a means of flirtation. A woman could intentionally drop a dainty square of lacy or embroidered fabric to give a favored man a chance to pick it up as an excuse to speak to her while returning it. Handkerchiefs were sometimes scented to be used like a nosegay or tussy-mussy, a way of protecting those who could afford them from the obnoxious scents in the street.

A bandanna or bandana (from the Hindi: बन्धन "bandhana", "to tie") is a type of large, usually colorful, kerchief, usually worn on the head. Bandannas are frequently printed in a paisley pattern.

Bandannas are worn as a practical garment by:
* Outdoor workers such as farmers and cowboys, who wear them around the neck to wipe the sweat off their faces and keep dust out of their collars.
* Wildland firefighters, who wear them over the mouth and nose to lessen inhalation of dust and fumes.
* Dancers and other athletes, who wear them during practice as a simple way of keeping hair and sweat out of their faces.
*Some soldiers wear bandannas to keep their own sweat and blood out of their eyes.

Bandannas in particular colors are also worn as a means of communication or identification, as with the prominent California criminal gangs, the Bloods, the Crips, the Norteños, and the Sureños or in sexual subcultures in the United States. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, the Bloods and the Crips, wore red or blue paisley bandanas as a signifier of gang affiliation.

See also

* Do-rag
* Fichu
* Hachimaki
* Handkerchief
* Handkerchief code
* Headband
* Headscarf
* Hijab
* Neckerchief
* Veil

External links

* [ How to tie a bandanna]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kerchief — Ker chief, n.; pl. {Kerchiefs}. [OE. coverchef, OF. cuevrechief, couvrechef, F. couvrechef, a head covering, fr. couvrir to cover + OF. chief head, F. chef. See {Cover}, {Chief}, and cf. {Curfew}.] 1. A square of fine linen worn by women as a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kerchief — early 14c., curchef, earlier kovrechief (early 13c.), from Anglo Fr. courchief, O.Fr. couvrechief, lit. cover head, from couvrir to cover (see COVER (Cf. cover)) + chief head (see CHIEF (Cf. chief)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • kerchief — ► NOUN 1) a piece of fabric used to cover the head. 2) a handkerchief. ORIGIN Old French cuevrechief, from couvrir to cover + chief head …   English terms dictionary

  • kerchief — [kʉr′chif] n. [ME kerchef, coverchef < OFr covrechef < covrir, to COVER + chef, the head: see CHIEF] 1. a piece of cloth, usually square, worn over the head or around the neck 2. a handkerchief kerchiefed [kʉr′chift] adj …   English World dictionary

  • kerchief — UK [ˈkɜː(r)tʃɪf] / US [ˈkɜrtʃɪf] / US [ˈkɜrˌtʃɪf] noun [countable] Word forms kerchief : singular kerchief plural kerchiefs old fashioned a piece of cloth that you wear around your neck or head …   English dictionary

  • kerchief — [[t]kɜ͟ː(r)tʃɪf[/t]] kerchiefs N COUNT A kerchief is a piece of cloth that you can wear on your head or round your neck. [OLD FASHIONED] …   English dictionary

  • Kerchief — COVERCHIEF (Kerchief, Kercher) A veil or covering for a woman s head, and made of fine or coarse material, according to the wearer s condition or means. The coverchief was worn by women of every rank in England, both Anglo Saxon and Norman. By… …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • kerchief — noun (plural kerchiefs; also kerchieves) Etymology: Middle English courchef, from Anglo French coverchef, cuerchief, from coverir to cover + chef head more at chief Date: 13th century 1. a square of cloth used as a head covering or worn as a… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • kerchief — kerchiefed, kerchieft, adj. /kerr chif, cheef/, n. 1. a woman s square scarf worn as a covering for the head or sometimes the shoulders. 2. a handkerchief. [1250 1300; ME kerchef, syncopated var. of keverchef < OF cuevrechef lit., (it) covers… …   Universalium

  • kerchief — noun /ˈkərtʃəf/ A piece of cloth used to cover the head …   Wiktionary

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