a small piece of cloth or paper, usually square, for use in wiping the lips and fingers and to protect the clothes while eating.
Chiefly British. a diaper.
Scot. and North England. a handkerchief.
Scot. a kerchief or neckerchief.

Origin of napkin

1350–1400; Middle English, equivalent to nape tablecloth (< Middle French nappe < Latin mappa napkin) + -kin; cf. map Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for napkin

cloth, towel, wipe, doily, serviette

Examples from the Web for napkin

Contemporary Examples of napkin

Historical Examples of napkin

British Dictionary definitions for napkin



Also called: table napkin a usually square piece of cloth or paper used while eating to protect the clothes, wipe the mouth, etc; serviette
rare a similar piece of cloth used for example as a handkerchief or headscarf
a more formal name for nappy 1
a less common term for sanitary towel

Word Origin for napkin

C15: from Old French, from nape tablecloth, from Latin mappa small cloth, towel; see map
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 napkin

early 15c., from Old French nape "tablecloth, cloth cover, towel" (from Latin mappa; see map (n.)) + Middle English -kin "little." No longer felt as a diminutive. The Old French diminutive was naperon (see apron).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper