from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having a nap; fuzzy: a nappy carpet
  • adj. Often Offensive Tightly curled or coiled. Used of hair.
  • n. A round, shallow cooking or serving dish with a flat bottom and sloping sides.
  • n. Chiefly British A diaper.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a nap (of cloth etc.).
  • adj. Of hair: tightly curled or twisted; frizzy (occasionally specifically in reference to Blacks' textured hair).
  • adj. Foamy; having a large head.
  • adj. Nervous, excitable.
  • n. A kind of strong ale; nappy ale.
  • n. An absorbent garment worn by a baby who does not yet have voluntary control of his or her bladder and bowels or by someone who is incontinent.
  • n. A shallow, flat-bottomed earthenware or glass bowl with sloping sides.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Inclined to sleep; sleepy.
  • adj. Tending to cause sleepiness; serving to make sleepy; strong; heady.
  • adj. Having a nap or pile; downy; shaggy.
  • n. A round earthen dish, with a flat bottom and sloping sides.
  • n. A diaper{4}.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Heady; strong: applied to ale or beer.
  • Tipsy; slightly elevated or intoxicated with drink.
  • n. Strong ale.
  • Covered with nap; having abundance of nap on the surface: as, a nappy cloth.
  • Brittle; easily broken.
  • n. A round dish of earthenware or glass with a flat bottom and sloping sides.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (of hair) in small tight curls
  • n. garment consisting of a folded cloth drawn up between the legs and fastened at the waist; worn by infants to catch excrement


Probably from dialectal nap, bowl, from Middle English, from Old English hnæp.
Alteration of napkin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Probably shortened from napkin (but possibly a corruption of French nappe, since napkin is already a diminutive). (Wiktionary)
From nap +‎ -y. (Wiktionary)
Old English nap, Anglo-Saxon hnaep, cup, bowl. See hanaper. (Wiktionary)



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  • Yew Hear!

    January 1, 2009

  • CNN / April 24, 2007
    Carolivia Herron is a former English professor and the author of the children's book "Nappy Hair." The book tells the story of an African-American family extolling the strength and wonder of young Brenda's natural hair while affirming her beauty and culture. Uncle Mordecai is the principal character who praises Brenda, and Herron has written the following article from the perspective of what Uncle Mordecai would say about the sullying of the word "nappy."

    April 13, 2007