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.
Nautical, ship's papers.
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, pertaining 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. See table under wedding anniversary.
Slang. including many patrons admitted on free passes, as an audience for a theatrical performance: It's a paper house tonight.
Verb phrases
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.

1325–75; Middle English papire < Latin papȳrus papyrus

paperless, adjective
paperlike, adjective
repaper, verb (used with object)
unpapered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
paper (ˈpeɪpə)
1.  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: papyraceous
2.  a single piece of such material, esp if written or printed on
3.  (usually plural) documents for establishing the identity of the bearer; credentials
4.  (plural) Also called: ship's papers official documents relating to the ownership, cargo, etc, of a ship
5.  (plural) collected diaries, letters, etc
6.  newspaper See wallpaper
7.  government white paper green paper See command paper
8.  a lecture or short published treatise on a specific subject
9.  a short essay, as by a student
10.  a.  a set of written examination questions
 b.  the student's answers
11.  commerce See commercial paper
12.  slang theatre a free ticket
13.  on paper in theory, as opposed to fact: it was a good idea on paper, but failed in practice
14.  made of paper: paper cups do not last long
15.  thin like paper: paper walls
16.  (prenominal) existing only as recorded on paper but not yet in practice: paper profits; paper expenditure
17.  taking place in writing: paper battles
18.  to cover (walls) with wallpaper
19.  (tr) to cover or furnish with paper
20.  slang (tr) theatre to fill (a performance) by giving away free tickets (esp in the phrase paper the house)
Related: papyraceous
[C14: from Latin papyrus]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-14c., from Anglo-Fr. paper, O.Fr. papier, from L. papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks" (see papyrus). 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. The verb meaning "to decorate a room with paper hangings" is attested from 1774. Paperless is attested from 1971. Paper chase is British slang from 1932. Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Paper definition

The expression in the Authorized Version (Isa. 19:7), "the paper reeds by the brooks," is in the Revised Version more correctly "the meadows by the Nile." The words undoubtedly refer to a grassy place on the banks of the Nile fit for pasturage. In 2 John 1:12 the word is used in its proper sense. The material so referred to was manufactured from the papyrus, and hence its name. The papyrus (Heb. gome) was a kind of bulrush (q.v.). It is mentioned by Job (8:11) and Isaiah (35:7). It was used for many purposes. This plant (Papyrus Nilotica) is now unknown in Egypt; no trace of it can be found. The unaccountable disappearance of this plant from Egypt was foretold by Isaiah (19:6, 7) as a part of the divine judgment on that land. The most extensive papyrus growths now known are in the marshes at the northern end of the lake of Merom.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with paper, also see on paper; push paper; walking papers.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Paper airplane contest awards the flimsy fliers that are a cut above the rest.
Pat out the dough on an oiled sheet of parchment paper.
What the video does is give me almost verbatim what was written in the paper article.
Have ready four sheets of parchment paper or foil, nine or ten inches square,
  and a baking sheet.
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