Napkin Etiquette


Napkin; a small square piece of cloth used to wipe the lips and fingers and protect clothes while dining. Late 14th century, of Latin origin mappa map and Middle English -kin little, (map-kin), the shift of the Latin –m– to –n– was a tendency of Old French. Disposable alternatives for cloth are Paper Napkins.

‘Serviette’ is sometimes used interchangeably with napkin, although in some countries generally refers to the paper variety. From French servir (to serve), in the early part of the 19th century, with its origins of first use dating to the late 15th Century. although in the United Kingdom, Napkin is used, in preference of the word Serviette.

The earliest English references to table napkins date to c.1385, although the use of paper napkins (chih pha) was first documented in Hangzhou, China, during 2nd century AD, when they were folded into squares, and used for serving tea.

Napkin, Etiquette.

Napkin at the table.

Above: Napkin at the table: when you arrive at your place setting, the napkin will either be to the left of your place setting or on your plate.

Napkin whilst seated.

Above: Always keep the Napkin on your lap whilst seated.

Wiping the mouth.

Above: When wiping you mouth, fold the napkin near the corner, and carefully wipe away any residue.

Napkin when temporarily leaving the table.

Above: Place your napkin on the seat of the CHAIR when temporarily leaving the table, although never on the back of the chair, we never want it to appear as if it were a flag.

Place napkin to the LEFT of your plate at the end of meal, noting the only time the napkin is placed back on the table is at the end of the meal.


  1. Napkin Folding
  2. Dining Etiquette
  3. Table Setting