Definition of diaper in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdī(ə)pər/


1North American A piece of absorbent material wrapped around a baby’s bottom and between its legs to absorb and retain urine and feces.
Example sentences
  • Leave baby's diaper off for a few minutes and let the bottom air-dry.
  • Some parents sew a pocket in the seat of their child's pants and pad it with a piece of diaper.
  • Clean you baby's bottom with every diaper change
2A linen or cotton fabric woven in a repeating pattern of small diamonds.
Example sentences
  • Did you know that the word diaper is the name of the type of linen used to make what was then called a napkin or clout for a baby?
2.1A repeating geometric or floral pattern used to decorate a surface.
Example sentences
  • The gods and goddesses are overlarge for the spaces they occupy and rest somewhat uncertainly on plinths made up of diaper pattern.
  • The college buildings, of red brick with blue diaper patterning, are grouped around two courtyards.
  • Its decoration consists of incised lines forming a diaper pattern, interspersed with a punched design of tiny triangular forms arranged like the petals of a flower.


[with object]
1North American Put a diaper on (a baby).
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, the baby was checked, weighed, and diapered.
  • I'm currently reading: ‘The Trixie Update,’ a website kept by a stay at home dad chronicling the feeding, diapering, and sleeping habits of his kid.
  • These classes help prepare teens for the practical side of parenthood by teaching such skills as feeding, diapering, child safety, and other basic baby care techniques.
2Decorate (a surface) with a repeating geometric or floral pattern.
Example sentences
  • The dating of the border, with its pale blue relief diapering, is interesting, since it indicates when this variation of the famille verte genre was popular.


Middle English: from Old French diapre, from medieval Latin diasprum, from medieval Greek diaspros (adjective), from dia 'across' + aspros 'white'. The term seems originally to have denoted a costly fabric, but after the 15th century it was used in sense 2 of the noun; babies' diapers were originally made from pieces of this fabric, hence sense 1 of the noun (late 16th century).

  • In the USA babies wear diapers not nappies as in England. This is because the pads were originally made of diaper, a linen or cotton fabric woven in a repeating pattern of small diamonds. Napkins, towels, and cloths could also be diapers in Britain from the late 16th century, but napkin ( see apron) came to predominate in babywear. Before the 15th century diaper appears to have been a costly fabric of silk woven with gold thread. The original elements of the word are Greek dia- ‘through, across’ and aspros ‘white’, the overall sense being either ‘white at intervals’ or ‘pure white’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dia·per

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