pa·​per·​work | \ ˈpā-pər-ˌwərk How to pronounce paperwork (audio) \

Definition of paperwork

: routine clerical or record-keeping work often incidental to a more important task

Examples of paperwork in a Sentence

She failed to file the paperwork on time. The lawyer had us fill in the paperwork for the mortgage.

Recent Examples on the Web

In an apparent oversight, National Beverage has been selling the product in Massachusetts without having ever submitted the necessary paperwork to regulators. Isaac Feldberg,, "Technically, LaCroix’s illegal in Massachusetts. Here’s why," 20 June 2019 Costco, according to the paperwork its consultants have filed with the city, intends to replace the store’s existing station with 154 new parking spaces, replacing those consumed by construction of the new station. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Vista Costco will move gas station to handle crush of cars," 10 June 2019 SoulCycle submitted paperwork for an initial public offering in 2015, only to withdraw it three years later. Elizabeth Fournier And Julie Verhage,, "Cycling startup Peloton files for IPO amid mixed trading debuts by tech firms," 5 June 2019 Police last year accused Turner, a seven-year veteran of the force, of adding another officer’s name to paperwork in 2017 to generate potential overtime pay for the other cop. Chris Palmer,, "Philly cop cleared in court of falsifying records, says he was targeted for retribution," 5 June 2019 But most, by the end of it, felt done—with all the paperwork, the processing, the past—and ready to move forward. Jessica Wakeman, Glamour, "10 Divorced Women on How They Spent Their First Single Night," 28 Nov. 2018 Ella Baker Makes a Plea for Black Lives (Aug. 6, 1964) A photograph of Ella Baker as NAACP Hatfield representative, behind a desk with paperwork, Sept. 18, 1941. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 The result has been that those with incomplete paperwork have been denied homes, jobs and public services, and have even been locked up. The Economist, "Britain needs a national identity register," 5 May 2018 The bill, which Conaway will bring before the committee on April 18, also implements harsh penalties for families who make simple paperwork errors. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Perpetuating the Cycle of Poverty," 17 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paperwork.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of paperwork

1899, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paperwork

Statistics for paperwork

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paperwork

The first known use of paperwork was in 1899

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paperwork



English Language Learners Definition of paperwork

: routine work that involves writing letters, reports, etc.
: the official documents that are needed for something to happen or be done


pa·​per·​work | \ ˈpā-pər-ˌwərk How to pronounce paperwork (audio) \

Kids Definition of paperwork

: the documents that are a requirement for or a routine part of something

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on paperwork

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paperwork

Spanish Central: Translation of paperwork

Nglish: Translation of paperwork for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paperwork for Arabic Speakers

Comments on paperwork

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


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!