a small piece of cloth or paper, usually square, for use in wiping the lips and fingers and to protect the clothes while eating.
Chiefly British. a diaper.
Scot. and North England. a handkerchief.
Scot. a kerchief or neckerchief.

1350–1400; Middle English, equivalent to nape tablecloth (< Middle French nappe < Latin mappa napkin) + -kin; cf. map Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
napkin (ˈnæpkɪn)
1.  Also called: table napkin a usually square piece of cloth or paper used while eating to protect the clothes, wipe the mouth, etc; serviette
2.  rare a similar piece of cloth used for example as a handkerchief or headscarf
3.  a more formal name for nappy
4.  a less common term for sanitary towel
[C15: from Old French, from nape tablecloth, from Latin mappa small cloth, towel; see map]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1420, from O.Fr. nappe "tablecloth" (from L. mappa, see map) + M.E. -kin "little."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Napkin definition

(Gr. soudarion, John 11:44; 20:7; Lat. sudarium, a "sweat-cloth"), a cloth for wiping the sweat from the face. But the word is used of a wrapper to fold money in (Luke 19:20), and as an article of dress, a "handkerchief" worn on the head (Acts 19:12).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
After doing a quick calculation on the back of a napkin, he said he would do so
  for two brothers or eight cousins.
Serve on a napkin, ends towards centre of dish, and garnish with parsley.
Napkin rings are unknown in fashionable houses outside of the nursery.
He is said to have roughed out the original concept on a paper napkin.
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