Share this entry

Share this page

diaper

Line breaks: dia¦per
Pronunciation: /ˈdʌɪəpə
 
/

Definition of diaper in English:

noun

1North American A baby’s nappy.
Example sentences
  • In the West, however, babies wear nappies or diapers until they learn to use a pot.
  • After their second child was born in 1987, she would work days as a medical clerk for the Army and come home at night to two babies in diapers - and often no husband.
  • The proposed welfare cuts, according to Vivian Hain, ‘will take the shirts off our backs and the diapers off our babies.’
2 [mass noun] A 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 geometrical 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.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1North American Put a nappy on (a baby).
Example sentences
  • Washing, drying, and salting the chicken felt strangely like bathing and diapering a baby - a very cold, lethargic baby with loose, pinkly skin and floppy limbs.
  • We would think a family who used disposable plates and bowls for every meal was wasteful, but we don't think twice about diapering our babies in the same fashion.
  • Is it really going to be the manly thing to be standing on the subway reading about how to diaper your baby?
2Decorate (a surface) with a repeating geometrical 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.

Origin

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to have denoted a costly fabric, but after the 15th century it was used as in sense 2 of the noun; babies' nappies were originally made from pieces of this fabric, hence sense 1 of the noun (late 16th century).

More
  • 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’.

Words that rhyme with diaper

showjumpergalloper

Definition of diaper in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day emulous
Pronunciation: ˈemyələs
adjective
seeking to emulate or imitate someone or something