A napkin (also in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia: 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.
In the United Kingdom both terms, serviette and napkin, are used, with napkin traditionally U and serviette non-U. In some places, "serviettes" are those made of paper whereas "napkins" are made of cloth. The word "serviette" in lieu of term "napkin" is not typically used in North American English, but may sometimes be heard in Canada due to French influence.
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.