Today I came across a word whose origin I had never considered before- handkerchief. In designing a lesson reviewing the
vowel digraph and the
digraph, I found this amazing word. My hypothesis was that it was a compound of hand + kerchief , which proved to be correct. What I didn't recognize at first was that is formed from the Old French word couvrir "to cover" + chief "head". The word handkerchief has been in use since the 1500's, and is a "one word contradiction of terms" (http://www.etymonline.com/). Incidentally, notice how this word cannot be spelled correctly based on its sound (we don't articulate the /d/ in hand ). In order to arrive at the correct spelling, the meaning must be understood. Chalk one up to a fully rounded teaching of orthography!