- a standard quantity of paper, consisting of 20 quires or 500 sheets (formerly 480 sheets), or 516 sheets (printer’s ream or perfect ream).
- Usually reams. a large quantity: He has written reams of poetry.
verb (used with object)
- to enlarge to desired size (a previously bored hole) by means of a reamer.
- to clear with a reamer; remove or press out by reaming.
- to extract the juice from: to ream an orange.
- to scold or reprimand severely (usually followed by out).
- to cheat; defraud.
- a number of sheets of paper, formerly 480 sheets (short ream), now 500 sheets (long ream) or 516 sheets (printer’s ream or perfect ream). One ream is equal to 20 quires
- (often plural) informal a large quantity, esp of written matterhe wrote reams
- to enlarge (a hole) by use of a reamer
- US to extract (juice) from (a citrus fruit) using a reamer
measure of paper, mid-14c., from Old French reyme, from Spanish resma, from Arabic rizmah “bundle” (of paper), from rasama “collect into a bundle.” The Moors brought manufacture of cotton paper to Spain.
Early variant rym (late 15c.) suggests a Dutch influence (cf. Dutch riem), probably borrowed from Spanish during the time of Hapsburg control of Holland. For ordinary writing paper, 20 quires of 24 sheets each, or 480 sheets; often 500 or more to allow for waste; slightly different numbers for drawing or printing paper.
“to enlarge a hole,” 1815, probably a southwest England dialectal survival from Middle English reme “to make room, open up,” from Old English ryman “widen, extend, enlarge,” from Proto-Germanic *rumijanan (cf. Old Saxon rumian, Old Norse ryma, Old Frisian rema, Old High German rumen “to make room, widen”), from *rumaz “spacious” (see room (n.)). Slang meaning “to cheat, swindle” first recorded 1914; anal sex sense is from 1942. To ream (someone) out “scold, reprimand” is recorded from 1950.
“cream” (obsolete), Old English ream, from Proto-Germanic *raumoz (cf. Middle Dutch and Dutch room, German Rahm), of uncertain origin.