[kur-chif, -cheef]


a woman's square scarf worn as a covering for the head or sometimes the shoulders.

Origin of kerchief

1250–1300; Middle English kerchef, syncopated variant of keverchef < Old French cuevrechef literally, (it) covers (the) head. See cover, chief
Related formsker·chiefed, ker·chieft, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kerchief

handkerchief, shawl, veil, scarf, bandanna, hankie, babushka, headrail

Examples from the Web for kerchief

Contemporary Examples of kerchief

Historical Examples of kerchief

  • Tucked in the soft folds of her kerchief was one of the roses that afternoon.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • When he held out the kerchief to her, their hands, by chance, touched for a moment.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • "That goes very well with the initial on the kerchief," said Parson Jones.

  • It was Mukhorty, and not only Mukhorty, but the sledge with the shafts and the kerchief.

    Master and Man

    Leo Tolstoy

  • Take your kerchief, Kenneth, and pinion his wrists behind him.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for kerchief



a piece of cloth worn tied over the head or around the neck
Derived Formskerchiefed, adjective

Word Origin for kerchief

C13: from Old French cuevrechef, from covrir to cover + chef head; see chief
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for kerchief

early 14c., curchef, earlier kovrechief (early 13c.), from Anglo-French courchief, Old French couvrechief, literally "cover head," from couvrir "to cover" (see cover) + chief "head" (see chief).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper