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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.
1805-15; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ream
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Gen. ream was of the opinion that Head would strike the railroad at Alletooning, where a great quantity of supplies were stored.

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

    Blood Royal Grant Allen
  • Humble and nameless men may scribble their Reminiscences by the ream, rush boldly into print, and yet find scarce a single reader.

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

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
  • He was already on board when I got here, with my typewriter and ream of paper, so we didn't meet.

    The Dope on Mars John Michael Sharkey
  • "Let's write the invitations immediately," said Mr. Spider, taking out of his pocket a ream of the most delicate cobweb paper.

    Miss Muffet's Christmas Party Samuel McChord Crothers
  • Drill the hole B with a small drill, about 1/16 in., in the center of the lower portion of the U and ream it out.

  • These two features make it possible to ream center holes of the same size or depth in any number of pieces.

    Turning and Boring Franklin D. Jones
  • Would Simple Susan have courageously ordered in the necessary gallon of ink and ream of paper?

    A Tangled Tale Lewis Carroll
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.

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


"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.

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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