paper money


Definition of paper money

1 : money consisting of government notes and banknotes

Examples of paper money in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Giant man-eating serpents were all very well, but what was this nonsense about paper money? The Economist, "Home Entertainment Confined in prison, Marco Polo roamed across the world," 23 May 2020 All orders are paid for in advance with a credit card to ensure that no paper money is exchanged. Bob Carlton |, al, "Alabama farmers market switches to drive-thru service; here’s how it works," 9 Apr. 2020 Gonzalez would irrigate fields for farmers (earning $5 a day and getting paid in silver dollars, paper money being viewed with suspicion) and dream about the storied fishing of the Montana that was beyond his reach. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "The Godfather of Montana’s Bighorn River," 28 Apr. 2020 For at least two millennia, Chinese people have headed to their ancestors’ graves on the 15th day after the spring equinox to remove weeds and brush away dirt, to offer food and wine and paper money so Grandma and Grandpa can enjoy the afterlife. Anna Fifield,, "China curtails memorials during tomb-sweeping festival," 3 Apr. 2020 Even before the virus outbreak, studies showed paper money can harbor thousands of microbes from various environments. USA Today, "Is it safe to go grocery shopping? Helpful tips during the coronavirus pandemic," 3 Apr. 2020 Iranians were urged to reduce their use of paper money. John Leicester,, "‘This is not a drill’: WHO urges the world to fight virus," 5 Mar. 2020 In South Korea, which has been more successful in stemming the outbreak, the country's central bank took all banknotes out of circulation for two weeks or, in some cases, burned paper money. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "Businesses banning banknotes, asking customers to use credit, debit cards," 21 Mar. 2020 Research already points to paper money as a hot-spot for germs. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Cash and coronavirus; Here’s what precautions to take when handling money, credit cards," 21 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paper money.' 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 money

1691, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for paper money

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The first known use of paper money was in 1691

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Statistics for paper money

Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paper money.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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paper money


Financial Definition of paper money

What It Is

Paper money is a medium of exchange for goods or services within an economy. It is printed on paper, rather than in coin form.

How It Works

Paper notes are the most generally accepted forms of paper money. In most cases, each country in the world has its own paper money, but in many cases several countries use the same  money (such as the Euro or the U.S. dollar). A country's government designs and manufactures that country's paper money.

Some paper money is fiat money, meaning that it has no intrinsic value. That is, the paper used to create the money is not worth very much in terms of its value as a raw material. Most paper money is fiat money, and its value comes from what it represents rather than what it is. Before 1971, the U.S. dollar was not fiat money -- it was backed by a corresponding amount of gold held with the Federal Reserve.

Why It Matters

Most paper money only has value because people want it. This idea is what made beaver pelts, shells, peppercorns, tulip bulbs and other things into money at various points in history. However, when the demand (or fashion) faded for some of these goods (or more people found they really needed corn instead of beaver pelts), these systems became cumbersome. Paper money solves this problem because it is exchangeable for any good or service that people want (rather than just beaver pelts).

This isn't to say that paper is the only form of viable money today. Quite often, companies use shares of their own stock as money to acquire other companies, and anybody who has ever watched a crime show knows that cigarettes can buy a lot in prison.

Source: Investing Answers

paper money


English Language Learners Definition of paper money

: money that is made of paper : money in the form of bills instead of coins

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