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nap·​py ˈna-pē How to pronounce nappy (audio)
nappier; nappiest
informal + sometimes offensive, of hair : naturally coarse and tightly coiled : kinky sense 1
He looks hip and relaxed in jeans and a floppy salt-and-pepper sweater, a soul patch beneath his lower lip, his hair cropped short and stylishly nappy.Jeffrey Tayler
A Nova Scotia court martial heard contrasting views from witnesses Monday on whether a white reservist's use of the word "nappy" to describe a black co-worker's hair was intended as a racial slur.The Calgary Herald
In "Nappy Hair," the 51-year-old Herron, who is black, tells how her uncle taught her to celebrate her hair—and her culture. The controversy caught her by surprise, since Herron does not regard the word "nappy," or frizzy, as negative.Lisa Meyer
: having a hairy, fuzzy, or downy surface
Press velvets, velours, corduroy, or other nappy fabrics on the wrong side; don't let the iron rest on the fabric.Consumer Reports
Thrift and resale shops are no longer a haven for nappy sweaters and faded blue jeans.Natalie Boehme


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noun (1)

plural nappies
chiefly British


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noun (2)

plural nappies
: a rimless shallow open serving dish


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noun (3)

chiefly Scotland
: liquor
specifically : ale

Examples of nappy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
And what is more Rich Mom than a Bottega clutch bag big enough for nappies, wet wipes and a handful of Fenty beauty products? Alex Kessler, Vogue, 10 Oct. 2023 At the same time, the urban population growth was spurring a massive increase in the use of non-recyclable waste products, including tons of disposable nappies. Carolyn Barber, Fortune, 13 July 2023 Diaper blowouts and other incredibly smelly nappies are a part of caring for a baby. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 26 July 2023 The idea of finding any way to repurpose these nappies ought to be applauded. Carolyn Barber, Fortune, 13 July 2023 This nappy is another all-in-one option, providing several snaps to suit most little swimmers up to 2 years old. Bridget Degnan, Parents, 15 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nappy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



nap entry 3

Noun (1)

napkin + -y entry 4

Noun (2)

English dialect nap bowl, from Middle English, from Old English hnǣpp; akin to Old High German hnapf bowl

Noun (3)

obsolete nappy, adjective, foaming

First Known Use


circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (1)

1927, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1731, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

circa 1550, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nappy was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near nappy

Cite this Entry

“Nappy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

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