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noun pa·per \ˈpā-pər\

Simple Definition of paper

  • : the material that is used in the form of thin sheets for writing or printing on, wrapping things, etc.

  • : a sheet of paper with information written or printed on it

  • papers : official documents that give information about something or that are used as proof of something

Full Definition of paper

  1. 1 a (1) :  a felted sheet of usually vegetable fibers laid down on a fine screen from a water suspension (2) :  a similar sheet of other material (as plastic) b :  a piece of paper

  2. 2 a :  a piece of paper containing a written or printed statement :  document <pedigree papers> b :  a piece of paper containing writing or print c :  a formal written composition often designed for publication and often intended to be read aloud <presented a scholarly paper at the meeting> d :  a piece of written schoolwork

  3. 3 :  a paper container or wrapper

  4. 4 :  newspaper

  5. 5 :  the negotiable notes or instruments of commerce

  6. 6 :  wallpaper

  7. 7 :  tickets; especially :  free passes

  8. 8 :  paperback

on paper
  1. 1 :  in writing <wants these promises on paper>

  2. 2 :  in theory <the plan looks good on paper>

  3. 3 :  figured at face value <on paper the stock was worth nearly a million dollars>

Examples of paper

  1. We'll need pens, glue, and some paper.

  2. Be sure to print the letter on good paper.

  3. He scribbled the number on a scrap of paper.

  4. a crumpled piece of paper

  5. The border guards asked to see my papers.

  6. They published a landmark paper in 1995.

  7. The teacher was busy grading papers.

  8. She did well on her history paper.

Origin of paper

Middle English papir, from Anglo-French, from Latin papyrus papyrus, paper, from Greek papyros papyrus

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Paper Terms

Rhymes with paper



verb pa·per

Simple Definition of paper

  • : to cover (something, such as a wall) with paper

Full Definition of paper

pa·peredpa·per·ing play \ˈpā-p(ə-)riŋ\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 archaic :  to put down or describe in writing

  3. 2 :  to fold or enclose in paper

  4. 3 :  to cover or line with paper; especially :  to apply wallpaper to

  5. 4 :  to fill by giving out free passes <paper the theater for opening night>

  6. 5 :  to cover (an area) with advertising bills, circulars, or posters

  7. intransitive verb
  8. :  to hang wallpaper

pa·per·er play \-pər-ər\ noun


First Known Use of paper




adjective pa·per

Simple Definition of paper

  • : made of paper

  • : of or relating to paper

  • : existing or shown on paper or in documents but not real

Full Definition of paper

  1. 1 a :  made of paper, cardboard, or papier-mâché <a paper bag> b :  papery

  2. 2 :  of or relating to clerical work or written communication

  3. 3 :  existing only in theory :  nominal <a paper blockade>

  4. 4 :  admitted by free passes <a paper audience>

  5. 5 :  finished with a crisp smooth surface similar to that of paper <paper taffeta>

Examples of paper

  1. Their accounts showed lots of paper profits, but they went bankrupt anyway.

  2. <there's a paper boycott of that company's products that nobody seems to be honoring>


First Known Use of paper


Other Paper Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up paper? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

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