paper

1 of 3

noun

pa·​per ˈpā-pər How to pronounce paper (audio)
1
a(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
2
a
: 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
5
: the negotiable notes or instruments of commerce
6
7
: tickets
especially : free passes
8

paper

2 of 3

verb

papered; papering ˈpā-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce paper (audio)

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
paperer noun

paper

3 of 3

adjective

1
a
: 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
Phrases
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

Example Sentences

Noun 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. Adjective 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
For the second straight season, the Buckeyes went into halftime down by double digits to the Blue Devils, who, on paper, was clearly the more talented team. Stephen Means, cleveland, 1 Dec. 2022 That Valmonte filed his protest in person on paper may have added to the difficulty of tracing it. Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Nov. 2022 The cards are accessed through smart phones, although residents can print them on paper. Blake Nelsonstaff Reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Nov. 2022 Getting your feelings down on paper can ignite some real sparks, plus create a keepsake for years to come. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 29 Nov. 2022 The person Winter was creating on paper was bursting at the seams to be seen. Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2022 Palisades Tahoe upgraded nearly 40 of its 245 Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley runs to double black diamond status–on paper anyway–including Granite Chief Peak, Funnel, Kathmandu, Idiot’s Delight, Tom’s Tumble and Chimney. Steve Larese, Outside Online, 29 Nov. 2022 Records indicate this oddly shaped group of six contiguous lots first took form on paper in 1896, almost five decades after the U.’s founding. Tony Semerad, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Nov. 2022 On paper, the MacBook M1 Pro has the best design and offers the most power. Hunter Fenollol, Popular Mechanics, 28 Nov. 2022
Verb
Apply peel-and-stick wallpaper to a single wall for a showy accent or go all in and paper the entire room for a bathroom brimming with personality. Sarah Egge, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Aug. 2022 Behind the bar, two mannequin heads are nestled below the spirit shelf, stickers and notes in different currencies paper the walls, and the ceiling above is covered in Jӓgermeister labels that a bartender-artist began sticking up there one day. Emma Balter, Chron, 28 July 2022 Images of Hathaway in a beehive hairdo, cat-eye sunglasses, and a Gucci minidress now paper the internet—a near caricature of fabulous stardom. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 24 May 2022 Orange, purple and yellow cloth circles paper the walls. Jay Parini, CNN, 7 Aug. 2021 Murphy did not name names and Rylov, who was sitting next to him during the press conference, tried to paper the remark over. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2021 Bad people give away money, if only to paper their badness. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 21 July 2021 So, take a pen to paper and write down all your fears and anxieties. Seventeen Editors, Seventeen, 7 July 2021 Policies and procedures mean little to organizational culture change (and relatedly, profitability) if their only purpose is to paper the file for the lawyers. Ellevate, Forbes, 15 June 2021
Adjective
Staples, clips and other non-paper materials must be removed. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, 26 Aug. 2022 Some theater owners have told customers that certain sizes are available only in those non-paper options. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, 31 May 2022 During 2020's surges, Kate O'Neill, a professor in the department of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley, explained to CNN how non-paper condiment packets are nearly impossible to recycle. Wyatte Grantham-philips, USA TODAY, 27 Sep. 2021 That means choosing cards without any non-paper embellishments like foil or ribbon. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 24 Nov. 2020 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English papir, from Anglo-French, from Latin papyrus papyrus, paper, from Greek papyros papyrus

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

1594, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near paper

Cite this Entry

“Paper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paper. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

paper 1 of 3

noun

pa·​per ˈpā-pər How to pronounce paper (audio)
1
a
: a thin sheet made usually from rags, wood, straw, or bark and used to write or print on, to wrap things in, or to cover walls
b
: a sheet or piece of paper
2
a
: a piece of paper having something written or printed on it
b
: a written composition
3
4

paper

2 of 3

verb

papered; papering ˈpā-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce paper (audio)
: to cover or line with paper and especially wallpaper
paper a room
paperer noun

paper

3 of 3

adjective

1
a
: of, relating to, or made of paper or cardboard
paper carton
paper mills
b
: papery
nuts with paper shells
2

Legal Definition

paper

noun

pa·​per
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 papers Mutual 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 service Federal 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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