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
5 : the negotiable notes or instruments of commerce
7 : tickets especially : free passes
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 papering (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

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Other Words from paper


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

Synonyms for paper

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Eligible Mesa residents can apply for utility assistance through MesaCAN by filling out an online or paper application. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Several Mesa COVID-19 programs see success, but residents have so far been slow to apply for city aid," 18 Sep. 2020 Cool completely, remove from paper and store in an airtight tin., "Recipes for summer’s bounty: Desserts," 17 Sep. 2020 Typically, filters are made of paper, fiber (often fiberglass), or mesh, and require regular replacement to maintain efficiency. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "Do Air Purifiers Actually Work?," 16 Sep. 2020 McDonald’s last year spent nearly $1 billion with Black suppliers, including devoting nearly a quarter of its U.S. food and paper supply budget to diverse suppliers. John W. Rogers Jr., Fortune, "Why McDonald’s sets the standard for equitable business models," 16 Sep. 2020 For $20, Lantern-at-Home Kits are available in the museum’s store or at The kit includes a wood base, white wishing paper, a tea light and a link to exclusive Lantern Festival content. Kari Barnett,, "Build your own lantern to win tickets to Morikami Museum festival," 15 Sep. 2020 The stream of paper, plastic, aluminum and glass that came through my door from roughly 30 orders shocked and depressed me. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "All my takeout has delivered a mountain of trash. So I asked experts how to minimize it.," 14 Sep. 2020 For students who are visual learners, get a large piece of paper, a calendar, or a white board, and write out their daily schedule with them. Jo Yurcaba, Woman's Day, "The Remote Learning Tips That'll Help Your Child Emotionally & Academically ThriveThis Year," 14 Sep. 2020 These drives pushed citizens to turn in strategic materials such as rubber, metal, tin cans and paper for recycling. Joshua Schick Curator,, "Locomotive 'Sabine' headed off to war as scrap drives swept up nation's strategic materials," 14 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Outreach teams are papering neighborhoods like the Mission with more than 80,000 flyers, in several languages, that highlight testing opportunities. Katy Steinmetz, Time, "Inside San Francisco's Ambitious Plan to Bring Universal Coronavirus Testing to An Entire U.S. City," 22 May 2020 To deliver definition and personality, Holland doused all the woodwork with rich, teal paint and papered the walls a garden party of pattern. Jennifer Blaise Kramer, House Beautiful, "How Designer Dina Holland Transformed a Bland Living Room Into an Oasis," 11 Apr. 2020 The caregivers at work on the far side of the COVID-19 unit’s foreboding entrance -- papered with safety protocols and painted red to warn away those without proper PPE -- are not just skilled professionals. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "'We’re in here fighting’: 5 nurses take us inside the coronavirus unit at Parkland hospital in Dallas," 15 May 2020 The Gap, Macy’s, Michael Kors, all face daunting prospects, and no amount of liquidity in financial markets will paper that over. Zachary Karabell, Time, "Stocks Are Recovering While the Economy Collapses. That Makes More Sense Than You'd Think.," 29 Apr. 2020 Bigham family papers record that the family employed servants, including a black nurse named Lucinda Bryant, born in 1825. Marylynne Pitz, Washington Post, "Generations of African Americans trusted Dollar Bank," 25 Feb. 2020 As most businesses have locked doors and papered windows during social distancing, crews at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, 528 W. Main St., have draped the classic looking basement bar with protective tarps. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "Inside this Kentucky speakeasy, 'coveted' alcohol is being made. But it's not bourbon," 31 Mar. 2020 Classrooms mirror high-quality preschools, with artwork papering the walls, children playing gleefully on colorful carpets and shelves stocked with bins of toys. NBC News, "How play is making a comeback in kindergarten classrooms," 8 Feb. 2020 As cracks show in China’s veneer of stability, even some with ties to the party leadership are calling for those in power to shine light on divisions rather than papering them over. New York Times, "Coronavirus Crisis Exposes Cracks in China’s Facade of Unity," 28 Jan. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for paper

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for paper

Last Updated

21 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for paper


How to pronounce paper (audio)

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
4 : a piece of written schoolwork



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

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