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

The green ink on paper money protects against counterfeiting. Jonah Estess, The Conversation, "Curious Kids: Why is money green?," 29 Aug. 2019 The convention brings together all things numismatics: the study of coins, paper money, tokens and medals. Christen A. Johnson,, "A $3 million nickel and a $100,000 bill: These and other rare monies will be in Rosemont this week," 12 Aug. 2019 What design of paper money would thwart photocopying? Kenneth Chang, New York Times, "Mitchell Feigenbaum, Physicist, Dies at 74; He Made Sense of Chaos," 18 July 2019 The story takes place in the near future, after a virus spread through paper money on Black Friday wipes out millions in New York. Marcus Jones,, "Netflix picks up The Division movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Chastain," 10 June 2019 Looking for more in-depth coverage on what the future holds for paper money? John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Scotland is on the front line in the fight against “cash deserts”," 31 May 2019 Whether a cashless consumer experience is your idea of heaven or a dystopian nightmare, a case against paper money is easy to make. Town & Country, "Is This the End of Cash?," 28 Jan. 2019 In Club Domina, where the wine flows like Born and Bred and the paper money has the faces of the male dancers printed on it, political correctness does not exist. Leah Beckmann, The Cut, "Magic Mike Live: Las Vegas," 21 June 2018 To bypass rising censorship, for example, dissenters have taken to writing words of protest on paper money for all to read. The Christian Science Monitor, "Let Iranians decide the regime’s future," 7 May 2018

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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Statistics for paper money

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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The first known use of paper money was in 1691

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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

Comments on paper money

What made you want to look up paper money? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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