pa·​per | \ ˈpā-pər How to pronounce paper (audio) \

Definition of paper

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(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 (such as plastic)
b : a piece of paper
2a : 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 : a paper container or wrapper
4 : newspaper
5 : the negotiable notes or instruments of commerce
7 : tickets especially : free passes
8 : paperback
on paper
1 : in writing wants these promises on paper
2 : in theory the plan looks good on paper
3 : figured at face value on paper the stock was worth nearly a million dollars


papered; papering\ ˈpā-​p(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce paper (audio) \

Definition of paper (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 archaic : to put down or describe in writing
2 : to fold or enclose in paper
3 : to cover or line with paper especially : to apply wallpaper to
4 : to fill by giving out free passes paper the theater for opening night
5 : to cover (an area) with advertising bills, circulars, or posters

intransitive verb

: to hang wallpaper



Definition of paper (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : made of paper, cardboard, or papier-mâché a paper bag
b : papery
2 : of or relating to clerical work or written communication
3 : existing only in theory : nominal a paper blockade
4 : admitted by free passes a paper audience
5 : finished with a crisp smooth surface similar to that of paper paper taffeta

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from paper


paperer \ ˈpā-​pər-​ər How to pronounce paper (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for paper

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of paper in a Sentence

Noun We'll need pens, glue, and some paper. Be sure to print the letter on good paper. He scribbled the number on a scrap of paper. a crumpled piece of paper The border guards asked to see my papers. They published a landmark paper in 1995. The teacher was busy grading papers. She did well on her history paper. Adjective Their accounts showed lots of paper profits, but they went bankrupt anyway. there's a paper boycott of that company's products that nobody seems to be honoring
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hay, animal feed, farm commodities, and wood and paper products are the biggest exports through Terminal 6. oregonlive, 8 Sep. 2021 To the dismay of English majors around the world, the world of pen and paper is no longer limited to human hands. Pia Silva, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Residents should not bring paper that can be safely recycled in their green container. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 7 Sep. 2021 The cards should be thicker than thin paper and include some handwriting. Lynne Curry, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Sep. 2021 Most of the price tags at Costco are on white paper, but sometimes these specials are printed on color paper or are highlighted in neon on the price tag. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2021 Jimmy Lai, the paper’s founder and 71% majority owner, is in jail pending trial. Patrick Frater, Variety, 5 Sep. 2021 Buy a package of good quality tissue (wrapping) paper and cut it into squares or rectangles. Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2021 The Skyridge Falcons took that paper and wrote a different story in the second half. The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Orange, purple and yellow cloth circles paper the walls. Jay Parini, CNN, 7 Aug. 2021 Murphy did not name names and Rylov, who was sitting next to him during the press conference, tried to paper the remark over. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2021 Bad people give away money, if only to paper their badness. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 21 July 2021 So, take a pen to paper and write down all your fears and anxieties. Seventeen Editors, Seventeen, 7 July 2021 Policies and procedures mean little to organizational culture change (and relatedly, profitability) if their only purpose is to paper the file for the lawyers. Ellevate, Forbes, 15 June 2021 Are any characters in the book actually paper versions of themselves? David Oliver, USA TODAY, 1 June 2021 Don’t try to paper it over like a moldy wall in a Starbucks bathroom. Brian Moylan, Vulture, 24 Mar. 2021 Everything from altars to statues to paper goods to tea, all of our huge collections, carts and carts full of goods, just wheeling it with a hand truck. Eva Hagberg, Curbed, 15 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That means choosing cards without any non-paper embellishments like foil or ribbon. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 24 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paper.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of paper


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1594, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for paper


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About paper

Time Traveler for paper

Time Traveler

The first known use of paper was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near paper




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for paper

Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paper



English Language Learners Definition of paper

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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



English Language Learners Definition of paper (Entry 2 of 3)

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



English Language Learners Definition of paper (Entry 3 of 3)

: made of paper
: of or relating to paper
: existing or shown on paper or in documents but not real


pa·​per | \ ˈpā-pər How to pronounce paper (audio) \

Kids Definition of paper

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a material made from fibers (as of wood or cloth) and in the form of thin sheets or a sheet or piece of such material Fold the paper in half.
2 : a piece of paper having something written or printed on it : document
3 : newspaper
4 : a piece of written schoolwork
5 : wallpaper



Kids Definition of paper (Entry 2 of 3)

: made of paper paper plates


papered; papering

Kids Definition of paper (Entry 3 of 3)

: to cover with wallpaper paper a room



Legal Definition of paper

1 : a piece of paper containing a written statement: as
a : a formal written composition or document often intended for publication the Federalist papers
b : a document containing a statement of legal status, identity, authority, or ownership often used in pl. whether applying to one or more items naturalization papers this policy, including the endorsements and the attached papersMutual of Omaha
c : a document (as an answer, motion, or brief) prepared in furtherance of a legal action any paper after the complaint that is required to be served…must be filed within a reasonable time after serviceFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 5(d)
2 : a document providing evidence of a financial obligation especially : commercial paper in this entry
accommodation paper
: commercial paper used by one party to accommodate another party
bearer paper
: commercial paper that is freely negotiable by the holder and is made payable to bearer — compare order paper in this entry
chattel paper
: paper that sets out both a buyer's obligation to repay and a lender's or a seller's security interest in the goods bought or that contains the provisions of a lease of the goods
commercial paper
: a usually negotiable instrument (as a note, draft, or certificate of deposit) arising out of a commercial transaction specifically : any of the instruments constituting the obligations of a business organization that are sold as investments
order paper
: commercial paper that is payable to order — compare bearer paper in this entry
on paper
: figured at face value

More from Merriam-Webster on paper

Nglish: Translation of paper for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paper for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about paper


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!