Definition of napkin in English:



  • 1

    (also table napkin)
    A square piece of cloth or paper used at a meal to wipe the fingers or lips and to protect garments.

    ‘she unfolded her napkin and put it on her lap’
    • ‘In the last year or so a number of people have pointed out this truly disgusting trend, that an increasing number of men are using their table napkin to blow their nose.’
    • ‘It belongs in the position of a table napkin, beside a plate.’
    • ‘She was fiddling with her table napkin nervously.’
    • ‘Mike got out a pen from his pocket and drew four columns on a table napkin.’
    • ‘The museum's eclectic collection spans 400 years and includes rare pieces like a 1565 Elizabethan table napkin.’
    • ‘The white linen thing at your place is called a napkin (not a serviette; a serviette is a paper napkin with Christmas trees printed on it).’
    • ‘Everything from broths to cream soups will make your dull meal look like it deserves cloth napkins.’
    • ‘A lotus blossom adorns the table and white linen napkins are folded and waiting.’
    • ‘I put the linen napkin on my lap to show I am not poorly mannered and uncivil.’
    • ‘My fingers fidgeted with the white, cloth napkin in my lap.’
    • ‘She walked to him as he unfolded a white cloth napkin and smiled.’
    • ‘Jeff exclaimed as he threw his cloth napkin onto the table with a grin.’
    • ‘Sam took a paper napkin from the chromium dispenser, crunched it into a ball and handed it to her.’
    • ‘Then he wiped his hands and mouth, throwing the used napkin on his empty plate.’
    • ‘He finished his burger and grabbed a napkin from the dispenser in the middle of the table.’
    • ‘Dutifully, I grab a couple napkins from the dispenser next to me and pass them to my right.’
    • ‘He took a cocktail napkin and wrote on it.’
    • ‘Frankie grabbed a napkin from the silver holder and pulled a pen out of his pocket.’
    • ‘Nelson tossed his napkin on his plate, and, rising, strode toward the door.’
    • ‘Tears poured down my face and I blew my nose in a crumpled napkin I had in my bag.’
    • ‘He scoffed and studied the origami napkin in front of him.’
  • 2British dated A baby's nappy.

  • 3North American

    short for sanitary napkin

    ‘Compounds very much like it are also used in disposable diapers and sanitary napkins.’
    short for sanitary napkin


Late Middle English from Old French nappe ‘tablecloth’ (from Latin mappa see map)+ -kin.