Since the beginning, humans used their fingers to eat and we still do. Utensils have been around in various forms for thousands of years. Depending on one’s skill with utensils, eating may or may not be less messy. Before serviettes, fingers and mouths were wiped with the back of one’s hand, bread, clothing, table coverings, you name it—methods still in use today.
The word serviette comes from the French phrase “to serve”, most comely noticed in South Africa today as a paper facial tissue that is thicker and more course, perfect for cleaning hands and a face from a messy meal.
Napkin the alternate name is however is derived from nappe (French for cloth or tablecloth) combined with the suffix kin (meaning little) and is defined as a small piece of cloth or paper, usually square, used while eating for protecting the clothes and wiping the fingers or lips.