"small, ornamental napkin," 1714, short for doily-napkin (1711), from doily "thin, woolen fabric;" supposedly from Doiley, surname of a noted late 17c.-early 18c. dry-goods dealer on London's Strand. Doily earlier meant "genteel, affordable woolens" (1670s), evidently from the same source. The surname is d'Ouilly, from one of several places called Ouilly in Normandy.
updated on September 26, 2018