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 Probably people eating with their mouth open and sucking their fingers instead of using a napkin. Richard Davenport, Arkansas Online, "Get to know Arkansas target Ramel Lloyd Jr.," 3 Dec. 2020 The resident laughed and covered the burn with a dry napkin. Bindu Bansinath, Bon Appétit, "After a Life-Changing Injury, I Had to Eat to Heal," 8 Dec. 2020 Pop it onto a plate, tuck a napkin into your shirt, and go to town! Christopher Michel, Country Living, "Exactly How to Reheat Pizza So Tastes as Good as Before," 25 Nov. 2020 Place forks on top of the napkin, with the salad fork on the outside and the dinner fork on the inside, closest to the plate. Leigh Crandall, Country Living, "How to Set a Table in 5 Easy Steps," 16 Nov. 2020 Dear Miss Manners: Growing up, I was always taught to set the table by putting the fork and knife on the right side of the plate, on top of the napkin. Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Handyman can’t do it all — at least not well," 5 Nov. 2020 Gilbert adds a splash of color at every place-setting by sliding an unfolded bright-colored napkin under each plate. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Hosting Thanksgiving for your immediate household? Try these tips to have fun and be safe," 17 Nov. 2020 The creator fittingly used a green napkin for the usable decor. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, "This Christmas Tree Napkin DIY Will Impress Everyone at Your Holiday Dinner Table," 10 Nov. 2020 Gizelle was just stomping around the greater DMV area being messy in her off-brand Adidas slides, and Candiace was folding up every napkin in Maryland to blot her tears of happiness and rage. Jodi Walker,, "The Real Housewives of Potomac recap: Four degrees and one read," 2 Nov. 2020

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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Statistics for napkin

Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Napkin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for napkin


How to pronounce napkin (audio)

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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