place mat

If there's a small cloth under your plate and silverware when you sit at a table, you can call it a place mat. If you are eating at a diner, your place mat is probably made of paper and covered in ads. If you are a kid, your place mat is probably made of plastic to protect it from your spilled milk.

Some tables are set with only a tablecloth, while others might have individual place mats instead of (or in addition to) a tablecloth. When you set the kitchen table for a tea party, you might carefully arrange place settings on a fancy place mat for each of your guests. Place mats come in different materials, shapes, and sizes — although they're most commonly a rectangular piece of soft fabric — but they're intended to keep the table tidy and protected. At a casual restaurant, you might have a paper place mat printed with the menu, or with games meant to entertain children.

Definitions of place mat
1

n a mat serving as table linen for an individual place setting

Type of:
mat
a small pad of material that is used to protect surface from an object placed on it
napery, table linen
linens for the dining table

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.