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pa·per (pāpər)
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n.
1. A material made of cellulose pulp, derived mainly from wood, rags, and certain grasses, processed into flexible sheets or rolls by deposit from an aqueous suspension, and used chiefly for writing, printing, drawing, wrapping, and covering walls.
2. A single sheet of this material.
3. One or more sheets of paper bearing writing or printing, especially:
a. A formal written composition intended to be published, presented, or read aloud; a scholarly essay or treatise.
b. A piece of written work for school; a report or theme.
c. often papers An official document, especially one establishing the identity of the bearer.
4. papers A collection of letters, diaries, and other writings, especially by one person: the Madison papers.
5. Short-term debt instruments, especially commercial paper.
6. A newspaper.
7. Wallpaper.
8. A wrapper made of paper, often with its contents: a paper of pins.
9. Slang
a. A free pass to a theater.
b. The audience admitted with free passes.
tr.v. pa·pered, pa·per·ing, pa·pers
1. To cover, wrap, or line with paper.
2. To cover with wallpaper.
3. To supply with paper.
4. Slang To issue free passes for (a theater, for example).
5. To construct (something) in haste and with little forethought: papered together a new coalition of political convenience.
adj.
1. Made of paper.
2. Resembling paper, as in thinness or flimsiness.
3. Of or relating to clerical work: paper duties.
4.
a. Existing only in printed or written form: paper profits; a paper corporation.
b. Planned but not realized; theoretical.
Phrasal Verb:
paper over
1. To put or keep out of sight; conceal: paper over a deficit with accounting gimmicks.
2. To downplay or gloss over (differences, for example), especially in order to maintain a nominal, apparent, or temporary unity.
Idioms:
in paper
With a paperback binding; as a paperback.
on paper
1. In writing or print.
2. In theory, as opposed to actual performance or fact: It is a good team on paper, but its members play poorly together.

[Middle English, from Old French papier, from Latin papȳrus, papyrus plant, papyrus paper, from Greek papūros.]

paper·er n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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