papyrus

noun

pa·​py·​rus pə-ˈpī-rəs How to pronounce papyrus (audio)
plural papyri pə-ˈpī-(ˌ)rē How to pronounce papyrus (audio)
-rī
or papyruses
1
: a tall perennial sedge (Cyperus papyrus) of the Nile valley
2
: the pith of the papyrus plant especially when made into strips and pressed into a material to write on
3
a
: a writing on papyrus
b
: a written scroll made of papyrus
He discovered a papyrus in the ruins.

Illustration of papyrus

Illustration of papyrus
  • papyrus 1

Examples of papyrus in a Sentence

an ancient text written on papyrus He discovered a papyrus in the ruins.
Recent Examples on the Web Made with stems from the Cyperus papyrus plant, the organic material is fragile, sometimes falling victim to fungal infections. Julia Binswanger, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Mar. 2024 The Herculaneum scrolls are hundreds of papyri that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Taylor Nicioli, CNN, 7 Feb. 2024 Achieving this milestone would set the stage for reading many more of the Herculaneum papyri and other ancient texts. Margherita Bassi, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 But scholars have long debated how to translate the ingredients named in ancient inscriptions and papyri, meaning that much of the mummy recipe has remained a mystery. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, 26 Dec. 2023 The lumps were in fact scrolls—also known as papyri, named for the papyrus they are made from—which had carbonized in the high-temperature, low-oxygen conditions created by the pyroclastic flows of the eruption. Will Henshall, TIME, 21 Oct. 2023 Discovered in the nineteen-thirties, the papyrus lists the religious rituals to be carried out by the unit throughout the year, many of them focussed on the ruling emperor, Alexander Severus. Mary Beard, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 The resultant Greco-Egyptian magic was codified in a series of papyri, some of which survive to this day. Kent Russell, Harper's Magazine, 11 May 2022 Seales’ team has also trained machine learning algorithms to distinguish between differences in the papyrus’ structure, helping researchers see where ink settled on the page. Christopher Parker, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'papyrus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin — more at paper

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of papyrus was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near papyrus

Cite this Entry

“Papyrus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/papyrus. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

papyrus

noun
pa·​py·​rus pə-ˈpī-rəs How to pronounce papyrus (audio)
plural papyri -ˈpī(ə)r-ē How to pronounce papyrus (audio)
-ˌī
also papyruses
1
: a tall sedge of the Nile valley
2
: the soft central part of papyrus stems especially when made into strips and pressed into a writing material
3
: a writing on or written scroll of papyrus
Etymology

Middle English papyrus "papyrus," from Latin papyrus "papyrus, paper," from Greek papyros "papyrus" — related to paper

More from Merriam-Webster on papyrus

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