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  1. soft food for infants or invalids, as bread soaked in water or milk.
  2. an idea, talk, book, or the like, lacking substance or real value.

Origin of pap1

1400–50; late Middle English; a nursery word akin to Dutch pap, German Pappe, Latin, Italian pappa
Related formspap·like, adjective


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2. drivel, balderdash, twaddle.


noun Chiefly Dialect.
  1. a teat; nipple.
  2. something resembling a teat or nipple.

Origin of pap2

1150–1200; Middle English pappe; compare dialectal Norwegian, Swedish pappe, Latin papilla (see papilla), Lithuanian pãpas, all from a base *pap-; akin to pap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pap


  1. any soft or semiliquid food, such as bread softened with milk, esp for babies or invalids; mash
  2. Southern African porridge made from maize
  3. worthless or oversimplified ideas; drivelintellectual pap

Word Origin

C15: from Middle Low German pappe, via Medieval Latin from Latin pappāre to eat; compare Dutch pap, Italian pappa


  1. Scot and Northern English dialect a nipple or teat
    1. something resembling a breast or nipple, such as (formerly) one of a pair of rounded hilltops
    2. (capital as part of a name)the Pap of Glencoe

Word Origin

C12: of Scandinavian origin, imitative of a sucking sound; compare Latin papilla nipple, Sanskrit pippalaka


verb paps, papping or papped (tr)
  1. (of the paparazzi) to follow and photograph (a famous person)

Word Origin

C20: from paparazzo
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

Word Origin and History for pap


"soft food for infants," late 14c., from Old French pape "watered gruel," from Latin pappa, a widespread word in children's language for "food" (e.g. Middle High German and Dutch pap, German Pappe, Spanish, Portuguese papa, Italian pappa), imitative of an infant's noise when hungry; possibly associated with pap (n.2). Meaning "over-simplified idea" first recorded 1540s.


"nipple of a woman's breast," c.1200, first attested in Northern and Midlands writing, probably from a Scandinavian source (not recorded in Old Norse, but cf. dialectal Swedish pappe), from PIE imitative root *pap- "to swell" (cf. Latin papilla "nipple," papula "a swelling, pimple;" Lithuanian papas "nipple").


"older man," 1844, shortening of papa.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pap in Medicine


  1. Soft or semiliquid food, as for infants.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.