For other uses, see headgear.
Women's headscarves for sale in East Jerusalem

Headscarves or head scarves are scarves covering most or all of the top of a woman's hair and her head. Headscarves may be worn for a variety of purposes, such as for warmth, for sanitation, for fashion or social distinction; with religious significance, to hide baldness, out of modesty, or other forms of social convention.


Headscarves may have specific religious significance. Observant married Jewish women, for example, are required to cover their hair, often employing scarves, known as tichels or snoods, in compliance with the code of modesty known as tzniut.

Headscarves were also worn by married Christian women in medieval Europe, and even by some of the unmarried. This headcovering habit is better known as a wimple in English.

16th century wimple.
Elizabeth II wearing babushka-type headscarf at a meeting with Ronald Reagan, 1982.

Headscarves and veils are most commonly used by Observant Muslim women. The Muslim religious dress include burqa, chador, niqab, dupatta, and others. The Arabic word hijab, which refers to modest behaviour or dress in general, is often used to describe the headscarf worn by Muslim women. The hijab is worn for religious purposes. Some reasons for Muslim women wearing the hijab would be for modesty and allowing a woman to be judged by her morals, character, and ideals instead of her appearance. A "head dress" could also be worn by men. The most common, keffiyeh, is worn by men (most commonly Middle Eastern) for cultural purposes rather than religious.

Some English speakers use the word "babushka" (grandma in Russian) to indicate the headscarf tied below the chin, as commonly worn in Eastern Europe. In most parts of Eastern Europe, headscarves are used mainly[citation needed] by elderly women (grandmothers) and this led[citation needed] to the use of the "babushka" term. Women in Russia show their convictions to Russian Orthodoxy by wearing headscarves to church. In Chile, Mapuche women wear headscarves tied behind the head.

A plain red or scarlet headscarf was worn by female commissars and other women aligning themselves with Bolshevism in times of Russian revolution and civil war.

A head tie is an elaborate ornamental head covering worn by women of western and southern Africa.

Many women with medical hair loss, due to chemotherapy, alopecia or other causes, utilize scarves as protective head coverings.

See also


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • headscarf — ► NOUN (pl. headscarves) ▪ a square of fabric worn as a covering for the head …   English terms dictionary

  • headscarf — [[t]he̱dskɑː(r)f[/t]] headscarves also head scarf 1) N COUNT A headscarf is a head covering which Muslim women wear. 2) N COUNT A headscarf is a small square scarf which some women wear round their heads, for example to keep it tidy. [BRIT] …   English dictionary

  • headscarf — UK [ˈhedˌskɑː(r)f] / US [ˈhedˌskɑrf] noun [countable] Word forms headscarf : singular headscarf plural headscarves UK [ˈhedˌskɑː(r)vz] / US [ˈhedˌskɑrvz] a piece of cloth that a woman or girl wears on her head and ties under her chin …   English dictionary

  • headscarf — head·scarf (hĕdʹskärf ) n. pl. head·scarfs or head·scarves ( skärvz) A scarf worn over or around the head, often folded and tied. * * * …   Universalium

  • headscarf — noun A more or less square piece of material worn over the head by women, often to protect the hair, or for religious reasons …   Wiktionary

  • headscarf — head|scarf [ˈhedska:f US ska:rf] n plural headscarves [ ska:vz US ska:rvz] a square piece of cloth that women wear on their heads and tie under their chins …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • headscarf — head|scarf [ hed,skarf ] (plural head|scarves [ hed,skarvz ] ) noun count a piece of cloth that a woman or girl wears on her head and ties under her chin …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • headscarf — woman s scarf worn over the head and tied under the chin …   English contemporary dictionary

  • headscarf — noun (plural headscarves) a square of fabric worn as a covering for the head, often folded into a triangle and knotted under the chin …   English new terms dictionary

  • headscarf — noun (C) a square piece of cloth that women wear on their heads, tied under their chin …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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