- a piece of cloth or other absorbent material folded and worn as underpants by a baby not yet toilet-trained.
- Also called diaper cloth. a linen or cotton fabric with a woven pattern of small, constantly repeated figures, as diamonds.
- Also called diaper pattern. such a pattern, originally used in the Middle Ages in weaving silk and gold.
verb (used with object)
- to put a diaper on.
- to ornament with a diaperlike pattern.
- US and Canadian a piece of soft material, esp towelling or a disposable material, wrapped around a baby in order to absorb its excrementAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): nappy
- a woven pattern on fabric consisting of a small repeating design, esp diamonds
- fabric having such a pattern
- such a pattern, used as decoration
- (tr) to decorate with such a pattern
mid-14c., “fabric with a repeated pattern of figures,” from Old French diaspre “ornamental cloth; flowered, patterned silk cloth,” perhaps via Medieval Latin diasprum from Medieval Greek diaspros “thoroughly white,” or perhaps “white interspersed with other colors,” from dia- (see dia-) + aspros “white.”
Aspros originally meant “rough,” and was applied to the raised parts of coins (among other things), and thus was used in Byzantine Greek to mean “silver coin,” from which the bright, shiny qualities made it an adjective for whiteness. Modern sense of “underpants for babies” is continuous since 1837, but such usage has been traced back to 1590s.
late 14c., “to put a small, repeated pattern on,” from Old French diaprer, variant of diasprer, from diaspre (see diaper (n.)). Meaning “to put a diaper on” (a baby) is attested by 1951. Related: Diapered; diapering.