pa·per | \ ˈpā-pər \

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 \

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 \ noun

Synonyms for paper

Synonyms: Noun

bulletin, gazette, journal, mag, magazine, newspaper, organ, periodical, rag, review, serial, zine

Synonyms: Adjective

formal, nominal, titular

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Examples of paper in a Sentence


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.


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

And that’s particularly true in primaries that, at least on paper, look a lot like US Representative Joe Crowley’s race with Ocasio-Cortez. James Pindell,, "Suddenly every Democrat is the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just ask them," 13 July 2018 And that, at least on paper, is something that cannot be ranked. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Forget the rankings. MSU's Brian Lewerke could be Big Ten's best QB," 11 July 2018 On paper, the deal that brought Wilson Chandler to the 76ers was regarded as a salary dump for the Denver Nuggets. Keith Pompey,, "Sixers' Brett Brown sees Wilson Chandler playing a vital role in the lineup," 10 July 2018 On paper, O’Rourke would seem well positioned to reach Latino voters. Andrew Rice, Daily Intelligencer, "Can a Democrat Ever Win in Texas?," 10 July 2018 But on paper, so far, the team’s offseason is fair. Nick Talbot, San Antonio Express-News, "Writers’ Roundtable: How the Spurs’ and NBA free agency is shaping up," 7 July 2018 The administration doesn’t officially have a refugee number set on paper yet, sources said, and officials don’t have to reach a formal decision until September. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump’s mockery of the #MeToo movement underscores the GOP’s problem with women in 2018," 6 July 2018 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment. Noelle Carter, charlotteobserver, "Grilling burgers this summer? Up your game with these homemade bun recipes," 6 July 2018 The head Cavalier has seen The Woodlands - College Park rise from mere blueprints on paper to a more than 450,000 - square foot stone building. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Conroe ISD Principal Profile: Dr. Mark Murrell, The Woodlands — College Park," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Nobody is mourning Starbucks here, but papered-over windows aren’t exactly cause for celebration. Nestor Ramos,, "Weep not for Starbucks. But in the North End, what comes next?," 12 July 2018 And across the complex, there were instances of unmanned security posts, poor record-keeping, papered-over security cameras, rodent infestation, water leaks, sagging floors and expired fire extinguishers. New York Times, "New York State May Move to Close Rikers Ahead of City’s 10-Year Timeline," 14 Feb. 2018 The court papers Ramos authored, other records and interviews suggest an intelligent but isolated man who was willing to pursue a vendetta for years. Ian Duncan,, "Capital Gazette shooting suspect's anger flared, and fell silent. Then, police say, it exploded," 8 July 2018 The court papers Ramos wrote, other records and interviews suggest an intelligent but isolated man who was willing to pursue a vendetta for years. Anchorage Daily News, "Maryland newspaper shooting suspect’s anger flared, and fell silent. Then it exploded, police say," 8 July 2018 Several frolicsome paintings, in a gallery papered with velvety purple wallpaper and devoted to amorous pursuits, exult in the erotic lives of gods and nobles. Cate Mcquaid,, "MFA’s ‘Casanova’ a voluptuous look at a notorious voluptuary," 6 July 2018 The lobby is papered with artist Cassandra C. Jones’ take on an 1850s Baltimore Album Quilt. Jacques Kelly,, "Jacques Kelly: Hotel Revival's name reflects owners goals, and the mood of Mount Vernon," 12 May 2018 The walls are papered with thousands of vintage photographs of servicemen and women, the sons and daughters of a great nation. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ship that landed on D-Day, then hauled autos, now a museum in Muskegon," 24 May 2018 Distinctive elements: Formal living room; library; dining room papered in a 100-year-old Zuber scenic paper; breakfast room; china kitchen; kitchen; small family room; sits on 5-acres. Taylor M. Riley, The Courier-Journal, "This dramatic Anchorage mansion takes you back in time. Take a look around - it's stunning," 22 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for paper

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paper

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

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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

papers : 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 \

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

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Comments on paper

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to make amends

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