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

Gerald, who's 12, takes the pastries from the oven and places them on napkins for Jasmine and Solomon. Mark Curnutte,, "4 addresses in 4 months: This is what poverty looks like for this Cincinnati family," 10 July 2019 The startup Maude has also debuted a $25 personal lubricant, also in a pump-top bottle, with an elegant, modernist design that would seem at home on the cocktail napkins at a Standard hotel bar. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "There’s a stigma around lube. These brands want to change that.," 14 Dec. 2018 Fine-dining haters might find touches like a purse stool or your napkin placed on your lap with a tweezer a tad precious. Michele Parente, San Diego Union-Tribune, "1 Michelin star, 10 courses and tons of buzz: revisiting Addison," 25 July 2019 Maybe a Harvey Weinstein sighting requires a long toss of your napkin and stomping out the door? Joel Stein, The Hollywood Reporter, ""Shun, Don't Shame": How Hollywood Restaurants Are Treating Disgraced Diners in the #MeToo Era," 23 July 2019 By the end of dinner, her napkin is covered in lipstick, which is hard to clean. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: She makes a mess with her bright red lipstick," 19 July 2019 These were much skinnier than your average grissini (as they’re called in Italy) and came wrapped in a white napkin. Bee Wilson, WSJ, "Enough Already With ‘Reinvented’ Dishes—Let’s Get the Classics Right," 3 Aug. 2018 There’s also a wide array of wedding china, British flag napkins, on-theme tablecloths, masks of the couple’s faces, and so much more to decorate your viewing party. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "How to Host the Ultimate Royal Wedding Viewing Party," 9 May 2018 When Nakase and the other Clippers assistant coaches go for dinner, glassware doubles as players and napkins transform into whiteboards. Candace Buckner,, "Women more common on NBA sidelines. Now they want their presence to feel normal.," 16 July 2019

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

27 Aug 2019

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 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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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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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