Did you know that about 78% of people use napkins every day? But have you ever wondered why it is called a “napkin”?
Even though this name is used in multiple countries, the origin of the word is still a mystery. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history behind this common item and why it is called a “napkin”.
Why is a Napkin Called a Napkin?A napkin is an absorbent cloth or a small towel that is generally used to clean one’s mouth, face and hands while eating. It is believed to have been derived from the French term “nappe” which means “tablecloth”.
The name napkin could also be related to the Latin word “mappa” which also translates to “tablecloth”. The name was simply adapted to refer to a cloth that is used to keep the face and hands clean while eating.
Another possible explanation of why a napkin is called a napkin is that the word napkin comes from the Dutch word “napken” which means “small cloth”. The “ken” part of the word derives from the Germanic word “kino” which means “linen”.
So when combined, “napken” and “kino” formed the word “napkin”.
A Brief History of NapkinsNapkins have been used since ancient times. They have been found on wall paintings from ancient Egypt, which dates back to around 3000 BC.
They were also believed to be used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for the purpose of wiping their hands and mouths. In the Middle Ages, napkins were used as part of a formal dinner setting. Rich families would have their own personal linen or towels for the purpose of wiping their hands and faces.
These napkins were known as serviettes, which is a French word that means “to serve”.
Are All Napkins the Same?
No, not all napkins are made of the same material. The most popular materials that are used to make napkins are cotton, linen and paper. Cotton and linen napkins are more absorbent and can be used several times before needing to be washed. Paper napkins, however, are disposable and cannot be reused.