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[reem] /rim/
a standard quantity of paper, consisting of 20 quires or 500 sheets (formerly 480 sheets), or 516 sheets (printer's ream or perfect ream)
Usually, reams. a large quantity:
He has written reams of poetry.
Origin of ream1
1350-1400; Middle English rem(e) < Middle French reime, rame < Spanish rezma < Arabic rizmah bale


[reem] /rim/
verb (used with object)
to enlarge to desired size (a previously bored hole) by means of a reamer.
to clear with a reamer; remove or press out by reaming.
to extract the juice from:
to ream an orange.
  1. to scold or reprimand severely (usually followed by out).
  2. to cheat; defraud.
First recorded in 1805-15; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ream
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "If you're so hungry, help yourself to a ream of fish-wafer," snapped Sayre.

    The Gay Rebellion Robert W. Chambers
  • One letter from you would do her more good than a ream of mine.

  • Mary returned to the pony, and Richard to his ream, which he was cutting into sermon-paper.

    Blood Royal Grant Allen
  • Perhaps so; but if I have tired you, it is more than you could do by me, were you to fill a ream of paper.

    Dr. Arne and Rule, Britannia William Hayman Cummings
  • They give a better picture of the condition of society, than a ream of notes.

    The Colonial Cavalier Maud Wilder Goodwin
  • The sum he eventually paid for the paper was 25 roubles (£1) a ream!

    The Life of George Borrow Herbert Jenkins
  • I suppose that in England or in France the ream consists of 500 sheets?

    Garcia the Centenarian And His Times M. Sterling Mackinlay
  • Gave Father a ream of paper, and he gave me Emerson's picture; so both were happy.

    Louisa May Alcott Louisa May Alcott
  • So I'm going to write you a ream, Matilda Anne, whether you like it or not.

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
British Dictionary definitions for ream


a number of sheets of paper, formerly 480 sheets (short ream), now 500 sheets (long ream) or 516 sheets (printer's ream or perfect ream). One ream is equal to 20 quires
(often pl) (informal) a large quantity, esp of written matter: he wrote reams
Word Origin
C14: from Old French raime, from Spanish rezma, from Arabic rizmah bale


verb (transitive)
to enlarge (a hole) by use of a reamer
(US) to extract (juice) from (a citrus fruit) using a reamer
Word Origin
C19: perhaps from C14 remen to open up, from Old English rӯman to widen
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 ream

measure of paper, mid-14c., from Old French reyme, from Spanish resma, from Arabic rizmah "bundle" (of paper), from rasama "collect into a bundle." The Moors brought manufacture of cotton paper to Spain.

Early variant rym (late 15c.) suggests a Dutch influence (cf. Dutch riem), probably borrowed from Spanish during the time of Hapsburg control of Holland. For ordinary writing paper, 20 quires of 24 sheets each, or 480 sheets; often 500 or more to allow for waste; slightly different numbers for drawing or printing paper.


"to enlarge a hole," 1815, probably a southwest England dialectal survival from Middle English reme "to make room, open up," from Old English ryman "widen, extend, enlarge," from Proto-Germanic *rumijanan (cf. Old Saxon rumian, Old Norse ryma, Old Frisian rema, Old High German rumen "to make room, widen"), from *rumaz "spacious" (see room (n.)). Slang meaning "to cheat, swindle" first recorded 1914; anal sex sense is from 1942. To ream (someone) out "scold, reprimand" is recorded from 1950.


"cream" (obsolete), Old English ream, from Proto-Germanic *raumoz (cf. Middle Dutch and Dutch room, German Rahm), of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ream



  1. (also rim) To cheat; swindle, esp by unfair business practice; screw: A new technique for reaming the customers (1914+)
  2. (also ream out) To rebuke harshly; bawl someone out, chew someone out: I've seen him just ream guys out for not getting the job done (WWII armed forces)
  3. (also rim) To stimulate the anus, either orally or with the penis (1942+ Homosexuals)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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