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[puh-pahy-ruh s] /pəˈpaɪ rəs/
noun, plural papyri
[puh-pahy-rahy, -ree] /pəˈpaɪ raɪ, -ri/ (Show IPA),
a tall, aquatic plant, Cyperus papyrus, of the sedge family, native to the Nile valley: the Egyptian subspecies, C. papyrus hadidii, thought to be common in ancient times, now occurs only in several sites.
a material on which to write, prepared from thin strips of the pith of this plant laid together, soaked, pressed, and dried, used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
an ancient document, manuscript, or scroll written on this material.
Origin of papyrus
1350-1400; Middle English papirus < Latin papȳrus < Greek pápȳros
Related forms
papyral, papyrian
[puh-pir-ee-uh n] /pəˈpɪr i ən/ (Show IPA),
[puh-pahy-rin] /pəˈpaɪ rɪn/ (Show IPA),
[pap-uh-rish-uh s] /ˌpæp əˈrɪʃ əs/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for papyrus
  • They have been rubbed off so that vellum and papyrus could be reused.
  • While we're at it, let's push the heck out of stone tablets and papyrus scrolls also.
  • Her role was the physical preservation and piecing together of the codex's crumbling papyrus pages.
  • Creatures were wrapped in linen or papyrus to serve as a human mummy's best friends.
  • There were the old wheel tracks and the game trails to and from the papyrus swamp.
  • People probably said the same thing when they switched from scrolls to the printed books, or from clay tablets to papyrus.
  • Ibex and oryx will scatter at your approach, loping to higher ground as you wind among the arching papyrus reeds.
  • The ancient papyrus pages had been scattered into nearly a thousand fragments that crumbled at even the slightest touch.
  • Instead, they had to be written on materials such as papyrus, animal hide and even partially on copper.
  • Egyptians kept similar records on papyrus, which deteriorates faster than clay.
British Dictionary definitions for papyrus


noun (pl) -ri (-raɪ), -ruses
a tall aquatic cyperaceous plant, Cyperus papyrus, of S Europe and N and central Africa with small green-stalked flowers arranged like umbrella spokes around the stem top
a kind of paper made from the stem pith of this plant, used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans
an ancient document written on this paper
Word Origin
C14: via Latin from Greek papūros reed used in making paper
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for papyrus

late 14c., from Latin papyrus "the paper plant, paper made from it," from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," said to be of Egyptian origin. Proper plural is papyri.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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