AskDefine | Define napkin

Dictionary Definition



1 to protect clothing; wipe mouth [syn: table napkin, serviette]
2 garment consisting of a folded cloth drawn up between the legs and fastened at the waist; worn by infants to catch excrement [syn: diaper, nappy]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A serviette; a (usually rectangular) piece of cloth or paper used at the table for wiping the mouth and hands for cleanliness while eating.
  2. In the context of "UK": A diaper.
  3. A small scarf worn on the head by Christian woman when entering a Roman Catholic church, as a token of modesty.
  4. A sanitary napkin.


sanitary napkin

Extensive Definition

A napkin or serviette is a rectangle of cloth or paper used at the table for wiping the mouth while eating. It is usually small and folded. The word comes from Middle English, borrowing the French nappe—a cloth covering for a table—and adding -kin, the diminutive suffix.
The word napkin is also refers to a cloth diaper in the south asian region, often a reusable, triangluar cloth sewed at home.
Conventionally the napkin is folded and placed to the left of the place setting, outside the outermost fork. In an ambitious restaurant setting or a caterer's hall, it may be folded into more or less elaborate shapes and displayed on the empty plate. A napkin may also be held together in a bundle (with cutlery) by a napkin ring. Alternatively, paper napkins may be contained with a napkin holder.
Great inventions or ideas are stereotypically first conceived on a paper napkin. An example of such an idea is J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
A napkin is also a small scarf placed on the head by a woman entering a Roman Catholic Church as a conventional token of modesty. This practice is largely extinct in modern times.

See also

napkin in Bulgarian: Кърпа
napkin in German: Serviette
napkin in Spanish: Servilleta
napkin in French: Serviette de table
napkin in Scottish Gaelic: Neapraigear
napkin in Italian: Tovaglioli
napkin in Hebrew: מפית
napkin in Hungarian: Szalvéta
napkin in Dutch: Servet (tafelgerei)
napkin in Cree: Ubrus
napkin in Japanese: ナプキン
napkin in Norwegian: Serviett
napkin in Russian: Салфетка
napkin in Sicilian: Sarvietta
napkin in Swedish: Servett
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