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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for papyrus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We have mummy wheat,—cloth of papyrus, which is a kind of straw.

    Proserpina, Volume 1 John Ruskin
  • Wreaths of papyrus crowned these dishes with their green foliage.

  • papyrus, like the art of writing upon it, came originally from Egypt.

  • It was impossible to get it away without tearing the outer sheets of papyrus.

    Cleopatra H. Rider Haggard
  • The pond is edged by papyrus plants, which are alternately in blossom and in bud.

    History of Phoenicia George Rawlinson
  • Demetrius spoke no more, but arranged the sheets of papyrus that strewed the table.

    Serapis, Complete Georg Ebers
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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