nap·kin | \ˈnap-kən \

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

Rachel’s reading Anthem, a dystopian book about socialism, at the Central Perk when Ross tosses a napkin with a woman's phone number in her face. Vanessa Golembewski, Glamour, "Have You Noticed They're Always Reading on Friends? Yes, Even Joey," 2 July 2018 Sylvia starts scrubbing her tongue with a paper napkin. Claire Mcneill, Bon Appetit, "Inside the National Pie Championships: Keep Calm and Carry Cool Whip," 13 Apr. 2018 Hopfinger alleges Rogoff lent her signature and wrote down a $1 million price to be paid over 10 years on a bar napkin to seal the sale of the Dispatch News to Rogoff. Author: Naomi Klouda, Anchorage Daily News, "Rogoff claims lion’s share of $33 million in debts for Alaska Dispatch News," 12 Apr. 2018 This applies to napkins in restaurants as well — at smaller, more casual places, diners are expected to have their own supply on hand. New York Times, "How to Travel to (and Around) China, From VPNs to T.P.," 30 Jan. 2018 Occasionally the sauce overwhelms the dill aioli, and the burger also overwhelmed its wrapper; Don’t forget to grab a napkin. Zoe Sayler, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s veggie burgers: Eating your vegetables never tasted this good," 3 July 2018 But restaurants would rather Miller throw in the napkin. Andrea Zelinski, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas Ag commissioner, BBQ pitmasters battle over a weighty issue," 3 July 2018 Wags and Axe drown their sorrows by throwing napkins over their heads and eating ortolans prepared by Wylie Dufresne., "Billions Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: Isn't It Pretty To Think So?," 30 Apr. 2018 Fold a napkin or kitchen towel lengthwise and put it over the cage and the cork. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "How to Open a Bottle of Champagne the Right Way," 8 Nov. 2017

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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Statistics for napkin

Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for napkin

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

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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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of napkin 

1 chiefly British : diaper

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More from Merriam-Webster on napkin

Spanish Central: Translation of napkin

Nglish: Translation of napkin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of napkin for Arabic Speakers

Comments on napkin

What made you want to look up napkin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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