- a substance made from wood pulp, rags, straw, or other fibrous material, usually in thin sheets, used to bear writing or printing, for wrapping things, etc.
- a piece, sheet, or leaf of this.
- something resembling this substance, as papyrus.
- a written or printed document or the like.
- stationery; writing paper.
- a newspaper or journal.
- an essay, article, or dissertation on a particular topic: a paper on early Mayan artifacts.
- Often papers. a document establishing or verifying identity, status, or the like: citizenship papers.
- negotiable notes, bills, etc., as commercial paper or paper money: Only silver, please, no paper.
- a promissory note.
- toilet paper.
- a sheet or card of paper with pins or needles stuck through it in rows.
- a set of questions for an examination, an individual set of written answers to them, or any written piece of schoolwork.
- Slang. a free pass to an entertainment.
verb (used with object)
- to cover with wallpaper or apply wallpaper to: They papered the bedroom last summer.
- to line or cover with paper.
- to distribute handbills, posters, etc., throughout: to paper a neighborhood with campaign literature.
- to fold, enclose, or wrap in paper.
- to supply with paper.
- Informal. to deluge with documents, especially those requiring one to comply with certain technical procedures, as a means of legal harassment: He papered the plaintiff to force a settlement.
- Slang. to fill (a theater or the like) with spectators by giving away free tickets or passes.
- to write or set down on paper.
- to describe in writing.
verb (used without object)
- to apply wallpaper to walls.
- made of paper or paperlike material: a paper bag.
- paperlike; thin, flimsy, or frail.
- of, relating to, or noting routine clerical duties.
- pertaining to or carried on by means of letters, articles, books, etc.: a paper war.
- written or printed on paper.
- existing in theory or principle only and not in reality: paper profits.
- indicating the first event of a series, as a wedding anniversary.
- Slang. including many patrons admitted on free passes, as an audience for a theatrical performance: It’s a paper house tonight.
- paper over, to patch up or attempt to conceal (a difference, disagreement, etc.) so as to preserve a friendship, present a unified opinion, etc.: to paper over a dispute.
- on paper,
- in written or printed form.
- in theory rather than in practice.
- existing only in a preliminary state; in a plan or design: The university building program is still only on paper.
- a substance made from cellulose fibres derived from rags, wood, etc, often with other additives, and formed into flat thin sheets suitable for writing on, decorating walls, wrapping, etcRelated adjective: papyraceous
- a single piece of such material, esp if written or printed on
- (usually plural) documents for establishing the identity of the bearer; credentials
- Also called: ship’s papers (plural) official documents relating to the ownership, cargo, etc, of a ship
- (plural) collected diaries, letters, etc
- See newspaper, wallpaper
- government See white paper, green paper, command paper
- a lecture or short published treatise on a specific subject
- a short essay, as by a student
- a set of written examination questions
- the student’s answers
- commerce See commercial paper
- theatre slang a free ticket
- on paper in theory, as opposed to factit was a good idea on paper, but failed in practice
- made of paperpaper cups do not last long
- thin like paperpaper walls
- (prenominal) existing only as recorded on paper but not yet in practicepaper profits; paper expenditure
- taking place in writingpaper battles
- to cover (walls) with wallpaper
- (tr) to cover or furnish with paper
- (tr) theatre slang to fill (a performance) by giving away free tickets (esp in the phrase paper the house)
mid-14c., from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier “paper, document,” from Latin papyrus “paper, paper made of papyrus stalks” (see papyrus).
Meaning “paper money” attested from 1722. As shortened form of newspaper, first attested 1640s. In plural, “collection of papers to establish one’s identity, credentials, etc.,” it is attested from 1680s. Paper chase is British slang from 1932.
1590s, “to write down on paper,” from paper (n.). Meaning “to decorate a room with paper hangings” is from 1774. Related: Papered; papering. Verbal phrase paper over in the figurative sense is from 1955, from the notion of hiding plaster cracks with wallaper.
1590s, from paper (n.). Figurative of something flimsy or unsubstantial from 1716. Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong. Paper doll attested from 1849; paper plate from 1723.
In addition to the idiom beginning with paper
- paper over
- on paper
- push paper
- walking papers