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

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

According to multiple reports, Ramos held a grudge against the paper for its reporting and went so far as to barricade its back door to prevent people from escaping during his attack. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Facial Recognition Used to Identify Capital Gazette Shooting Suspect," 29 June 2018 For example, in 2014 Monica Gagliano and her colleagues at the University of Western Australia and the University of Firenze in Italy published a paper that caused a media frenzy, on experiments with Mimosa pudica plants. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018 At a very recent meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society, this gentleman read a paper giving a history of the case, and presented the veritable skull which sustained the injury. Daniel C. Schlenoff, Scientific American, "“Foul Treachery” of Trotsky and Lenin in 1918; Phineas Gage’s Brain in 1868," 13 July 2018 One of the earliest hints that rural cooking smoke was causing significant illness came in a 1959 paper written by the pioneering Indian cardiologist Sivaramakrishna Iyer Padmavati (who, at 101, is still practicing). Sara Morrison, USA TODAY, "In developing world, an expensive push to reduce cooking fire deaths falls short," 13 July 2018 At least one has been operating under the radar somewhere in the U.S. since 2014, according to a research paper . Washington Post, "‘It keeps us safe’: An NYC bathroom set up to stem overdoses," 13 July 2018 The moment — a few millionths of a second — triggered months of observation and analysis, all described in a pair of papers just published in the journal Science. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Blazing a trail: UW professor's dream leads to breakthrough in identifying origin of cosmic rays," 12 July 2018 Problem is, by and large, the public isn’t paying much attention to what the officials say, diminishing their influence over inflation expectations, according to a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, "The Public’s Indifference Is Complicating Central Bank Efforts to Control Inflation Expectations," 12 July 2018 Valery Sharifulin/TASS Writing in a 2003 paper in the Review of Economic Studies, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, a professor at the London School of Economics, noted that penalty scoring rates during regulation matches decreased as the game wore on. Umair Irfan, Vox, "World Cup shootouts: why the team that goes first usually wins," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Activist are now papering White House advisor Steven Miller's neighborhood in DC with wanted posters bearing Miller's image. Fox News, "Mike Huckabee: Peter Fonda ought to be in jail," 27 June 2018 Blankenship has claimed in court papers his primary residents in a massive six-bedroom, eight-bath Spanish style mansion near Las Vegas. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: House Republicans divided on whether to turn up the heat on Scott Pruitt," 26 Apr. 2018 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

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

9 Nov 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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