nap·​kin | \ ˈnap-kən How to pronounce napkin (audio) \

Definition of napkin

1 : a piece of material (such as cloth or paper) used at table to wipe the lips or fingers and protect the clothes
2 : a small cloth or towel: such as
a dialectal British : handkerchief
b chiefly Scotland : kerchief
c chiefly British : diaper sense 3

Examples of napkin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Kylie, the youngest of the bunch, who has been coming to camp for nine years, ate a French fry and genteelly dabbed the side of her mouth with a napkin. Mira Ptacin, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 In the Escher world, checking shadow theories for unitarity can be done on a cocktail napkin. Quanta Magazine, 10 Nov. 2021 De Barra had a dream about what would become Blood Origin and then a couple days later wrote it all down on the back of a cafe napkin. Nick Romano,, 8 Nov. 2021 In the napkin, the release states, were 23 capsules later found to be a mixture of heroin and fentanyl. Kristen Griffith,, 22 Oct. 2021 Examples of these include swirling Spiral napkin rings in sterling silver. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 12 June 2021 Take an extra napkin and surreptitiously dump food into it. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 23 Nov. 2021 Paige had nothing written down, not even a napkin with talking points. Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2021 If a little spot of food drops from your fork, within seconds it will be covered by a fresh napkin. John Mariani, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'napkin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of napkin

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for napkin

Middle English nappekin, from nape tablecloth, from Anglo-French, from Latin mappa napkin

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Time Traveler for napkin

Time Traveler

The first known use of napkin was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near napkin



napkin pattern

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Statistics for napkin

Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Napkin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for napkin



English Language Learners Definition of napkin

: a small piece of cloth or paper used during a meal to clean your lips and fingers and to protect your clothes


nap·​kin | \ ˈnap-kən How to pronounce napkin (audio) \

Kids Definition of napkin

: a small piece of cloth or paper used when eating to wipe the lips or fingers and protect the clothes


nap·​kin | \ ˈnap-kən How to pronounce napkin (audio) \

Medical Definition of napkin

1 chiefly British : diaper


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