The key difference between napkin and serviette is in the usage of these two words. The word napkin is more commonly used than serviette. Moreover, the word napkin is used in American English whereas the word serviette is used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, etc.
Both these words napkin and serviette basically refers to a square piece of cloth/paper we use at a meal to wipe the fingers or lips and to protect garments. In the US, the word napkin is more commonly used than serviette, which is rarely used. In the UK, napkin is a traditionally upper-class word, and serviette is a ‘non-U’ (middle class) word.
What is a Napkin?
Napkin is a rectangular or square piece of cloth we use at the table for wiping the mouth and fingers while eating. It also protects the clothes you are wearing from food stains, spills and crumbs. Napkins are usually folded in various designs and shapes.
Traditionally, napkins are kept to the left of the place setting, outside the outermost fork. You have to unfold the napkin and place it on your lap in order to protect your clothes. Once you have finished the meal, you can place the napkin back on the table.
Some people believe that napkins are made of only clothes whereas serviettes are made of paper. This is not true. You can find both paper napkins and cloth napkins. However, most people use cloth napkins for formal dinners, and paper napkins for casual events like cocktail receptions.
What is a Serviette?
Serviette refers to a table napkin. In other words, both these words have the same meaning. However, there is a difference between napkin and serviette based on their usage.
In the US, serviette is rarely used. However, in the UK, use of the word serviette is often thought to be common or un-posh, whereas napkin is associated with the upper class. Canadians use these two words more or less interchangeably.
What is the Similarity Between Napkin and Serviette
- Both napkin and serviette have the same meaning: a small piece of cloth or paper people use for wiping the lips and fingers and to protect the clothes while eating.
What is the Difference Between Napkin and Serviette?
If you look at their meaning, there is no difference between napkin and serviette. Both refer to a piece of cloth/paper we use at a meal to wipe the fingers or lips and protect our clothes. However, a difference between napkin and serviette actually lies in the usage. Americans mostly use the word napkin, whereas British associate napkin with upper class and serviette with middle-class or unposh usage. Moreover, napkin is the most commonly used word out of these two words.
Summary – Napkin vs Serviette
Both napkin and serviette basically refer to a square piece of cloth/paper we use at a meal to wipe the fingers or lips and to protect garments. The key difference between napkin and serviette is the usage of these two words. Americans mostly use the word napkin, whereas British associate napkin with upper class and serviette with middle-class.