neckcloth (plural neckcloths)

  1. (historical) An ornamental cravat, usually white.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, London: W. Taylor, 3rd edition, p. 144,
      […] I did remember I had among the Seamens Cloaths which were sav’d out of the Ship, some Neckcloaths of Callicoe or Muslin; and with some Pieces of these I made three small Sieves, but proper enough for the Work […]
    • 1720, John Gay, “Tuesday; or, the Ditty” in Poems on Several Occasions, London: H. Lintot, R. Tonson & S. Draper, 1745, Volume I, p. 85,
      Will she thy linen wash or hosen darn,
      And knit thee gloves made of her own-spun yarn?
      Will she with huswife’s hand provide thy meat,
      And ev’ry Sunday morn thy neckcloth plait?
      Which o’er thy kersey doublet spreading wide,
      In service time drew Cic’ly’s eyes aside.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, Volume I, Chapter 9, p. 115,
      He was a man of such rigid refinement, that he would have starved rather than have dined without a white neck-cloth.
    • 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, London: Bradbury & Evans, Chapter 15, p. 157,
      He was very cleanly dressed, in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, and nankeen trowsers; and his fine frilled shirt and cambric neckcloth looked unusually soft and white, reminding my strolling fancy (I call to mind) of the plumage on the breast of a swan.
    • 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, Part I, Chapter 7,
      It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neck-cloth and half-strangling him that we made him realise that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands.

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