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Kerchief vs. Bandana: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Janet White || Updated on May 20, 2024
A kerchief is a square piece of fabric worn around the neck or head, while a bandana is a type of kerchief, often colorful and patterned, commonly tied around the head or neck.

Key Differences

A kerchief, also known as a scarf or handkerchief, is a square piece of cloth used for various purposes. It is traditionally worn around the neck, head, or shoulders. A bandana is a specific type of kerchief, usually made from cotton and featuring vibrant colors and distinct patterns, such as paisley. Bandanas are often worn as a fashion accessory or for practical purposes, such as headbands, neckerchiefs, or face coverings.
Kerchiefs have been used historically for a variety of reasons, including protection from the sun, warmth, and modesty. They are often found in traditional and cultural dress around the world. On the other hand, bandanas have a more casual and contemporary usage, commonly associated with outdoor activities, fashion, and subcultures.
While both kerchiefs and bandanas serve similar functional purposes, bandanas are generally more recognized for their distinct style and cultural significance. Kerchiefs, being more generic, can be styled and used in a broader range of contexts.
A kerchief is a general term for a piece of cloth worn around the neck or head, a bandana refers to a specific style of kerchief known for its colorful patterns and casual usage.

Comparison Chart


A square piece of fabric worn around the neck or head
A type of kerchief, often colorful and patterned


Various materials like cotton, silk, wool
Typically made from cotton


Can be plain or patterned
Often features distinct patterns, like paisley


Traditional and cultural dress, sun protection, warmth
Fashion accessory, practical uses like headbands

Cultural Significance

Used worldwide in various traditional contexts
Associated with casual, outdoor activities, and subcultures

Kerchief and Bandana Definitions


A square piece of fabric worn around the neck or head.
She tied a silk kerchief around her neck for a touch of elegance.


A colorful, patterned kerchief often worn on the head or neck.
He wore a red bandana to keep sweat out of his eyes.


A traditional piece of clothing in many cultures.
The dancer's costume included a brightly colored kerchief.


A casual accessory for fashion or practical use.
The biker gang all wore black bandanas.


A versatile accessory used for protection or fashion.
He used a kerchief to shield his head from the sun.


A type of kerchief known for its vibrant designs.
She collected bandanas in various colors and patterns.


A cloth often used for warmth or modesty.
The old lady wore a kerchief over her hair when she went to church.


A square piece of cloth with distinct patterns like paisley.
She folded the bandana into a triangle and tied it around her neck.


A handkerchief or small scarf.
She carried a kerchief in her pocket to dab her forehead.


A piece of cloth used as a headband or face covering.
He used a bandana to cover his face from dust.


A square scarf, often worn as a head covering.


A large handkerchief usually patterned and brightly colored.


A handkerchief.


A large kerchief, usually colourful and used either as headgear or as a handkerchief, neckerchief, bikini, or sweatband.


(dated) A piece of cloth used to cover the head; a bandana.


A style of calico printing, in which white or bright spots are produced upon cloth previously dyed a uniform red or dark colour, by discharging portions of the color by chemical means, while the rest of the cloth is under pressure.


To cover with a kerchief.


Large and brightly colored handkerchief; often used as a neckerchief


A square of fine linen worn by women as a covering for the head; hence, anything similar in form or material, worn for ornament on other parts of the person; - mostly used in compounds; as, neckerchief; breastkerchief; and later, handkerchief.
He might put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.
Her black hair strained awayTo a scarlet kerchief caught beneath her chin.


A lady who wears a kerchief.


A square scarf that is folded into a triangle and worn over the head or about the neck


What is a bandana?

A bandana is a type of kerchief, often colorful and patterned, used as a fashion accessory or for practical purposes.

What is a kerchief?

A kerchief is a square piece of fabric worn around the neck or head for various purposes.

What patterns are common on bandanas?

Bandanas often feature distinct patterns, such as paisley.

Can a kerchief be used for sun protection?

Yes, kerchiefs can be worn to protect from the sun.

Are kerchiefs and bandanas made from the same materials?

Kerchiefs can be made from various materials like cotton, silk, or wool, while bandanas are typically made from cotton.

Can you wear a kerchief as a fashion accessory?

Yes, kerchiefs can be styled as fashionable accessories.

Do kerchiefs always have patterns?

No, kerchiefs can be plain or patterned.

Are bandanas used in traditional dress?

Bandanas are more commonly used in casual, outdoor, and subcultural contexts rather than traditional dress.

Can kerchiefs be used for warmth?

Yes, kerchiefs can provide warmth when worn around the neck or head.

What does the word 'bandana' originate from?

The word 'bandana' originates from the Hindi word "bāndhnū," meaning "tie-dyeing."

Do bandanas have cultural significance?

Yes, bandanas are associated with various subcultures and activities.

Can bandanas be worn around the neck?

Yes, bandanas can be tied around the neck.

Are bandanas used by specific groups?

Yes, bandanas are popular among various subcultures, including bikers and musicians.

Is a bandana a type of kerchief?

Yes, a bandana is a specific type of kerchief.

Are kerchiefs used worldwide?

Yes, kerchiefs are used in various cultures around the world.

Can kerchiefs be decorative?

Yes, kerchiefs can be both functional and decorative.

Are bandanas only for fashion?

No, bandanas also serve practical purposes like headbands and face coverings.

Can kerchiefs be used as head coverings?

Yes, kerchiefs are often used to cover the head.

Do kerchiefs have specific uses in traditional contexts?

Yes, kerchiefs often have traditional uses, such as in cultural dress or ceremonies.

Do bandanas come in solid colors?

While bandanas are usually patterned, they can also be found in solid colors.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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