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paper

[pey-per]
noun
  1. a substance made from wood pulp, rags, straw, or other fibrous material, usually in thin sheets, used to bear writing or printing, for wrapping things, etc.
  2. a piece, sheet, or leaf of this.
  3. something resembling this substance, as papyrus.
  4. a written or printed document or the like.
  5. stationery; writing paper.
  6. a newspaper or journal.
  7. an essay, article, or dissertation on a particular topic: a paper on early Mayan artifacts.
  8. Often papers. a document establishing or verifying identity, status, or the like: citizenship papers.
  9. negotiable notes, bills, etc., as commercial paper or paper money: Only silver, please, no paper.
  10. a promissory note.
  11. papers,
    1. Nautical.ship's papers.
    2. rolling paper.
  12. wallpaper.
  13. toilet paper.
  14. a sheet or card of paper with pins or needles stuck through it in rows.
  15. a set of questions for an examination, an individual set of written answers to them, or any written piece of schoolwork.
  16. Slang. a free pass to an entertainment.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cover with wallpaper or apply wallpaper to: They papered the bedroom last summer.
  2. to line or cover with paper.
  3. to distribute handbills, posters, etc., throughout: to paper a neighborhood with campaign literature.
  4. to fold, enclose, or wrap in paper.
  5. to supply with paper.
  6. Informal. to deluge with documents, especially those requiring one to comply with certain technical procedures, as a means of legal harassment: He papered the plaintiff to force a settlement.
  7. Slang. to fill (a theater or the like) with spectators by giving away free tickets or passes.
  8. Archaic.
    1. to write or set down on paper.
    2. to describe in writing.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to apply wallpaper to walls.
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adjective
  1. made of paper or paperlike material: a paper bag.
  2. paperlike; thin, flimsy, or frail.
  3. of, relating to, or noting routine clerical duties.
  4. pertaining to or carried on by means of letters, articles, books, etc.: a paper war.
  5. written or printed on paper.
  6. existing in theory or principle only and not in reality: paper profits.
  7. indicating the first event of a series, as a wedding anniversary.
  8. Slang. including many patrons admitted on free passes, as an audience for a theatrical performance: It's a paper house tonight.
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Verb Phrases
  1. paper over, to patch up or attempt to conceal (a difference, disagreement, etc.) so as to preserve a friendship, present a unified opinion, etc.: to paper over a dispute.
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Idioms
  1. on paper,
    1. in written or printed form.
    2. in theory rather than in practice.
    3. existing only in a preliminary state; in a plan or design: The university building program is still only on paper.
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Origin of paper

1325–75; Middle English papire < Latin papȳrus papyrus
Related formspa·per·less, adjectivepa·per·like, adjectivere·pa·per, verb (used with object)un·pa·pered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for paper over

paper over

verb
  1. (tr, adverb) to conceal (something controversial or unpleasant)
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paper

noun
  1. a substance made from cellulose fibres derived from rags, wood, etc, often with other additives, and formed into flat thin sheets suitable for writing on, decorating walls, wrapping, etcRelated adjective: papyraceous
  2. a single piece of such material, esp if written or printed on
  3. (usually plural) documents for establishing the identity of the bearer; credentials
  4. Also called: ship's papers (plural) official documents relating to the ownership, cargo, etc, of a ship
  5. (plural) collected diaries, letters, etc
  6. See newspaper, wallpaper
  7. government See white paper, green paper, command paper
  8. a lecture or short published treatise on a specific subject
  9. a short essay, as by a student
    1. a set of written examination questions
    2. the student's answers
  10. commerce See commercial paper
  11. theatre slang a free ticket
  12. on paper in theory, as opposed to factit was a good idea on paper, but failed in practice
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adjective
  1. made of paperpaper cups do not last long
  2. thin like paperpaper walls
  3. (prenominal) existing only as recorded on paper but not yet in practicepaper profits; paper expenditure
  4. taking place in writingpaper battles
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verb
  1. to cover (walls) with wallpaper
  2. (tr) to cover or furnish with paper
  3. (tr) theatre slang to fill (a performance) by giving away free tickets (esp in the phrase paper the house)
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See also paper over
Derived Formspaperer, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Latin papyrus
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 paper over

paper

n.

mid-14c., from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier "paper, document," from Latin papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks" (see papyrus).

Meaning "paper money" attested from 1722. As shortened form of newspaper, first attested 1640s. In plural, "collection of papers to establish one's identity, credentials, etc.," it is attested from 1680s. Paper chase is British slang from 1932.

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paper

v.

1590s, "to write down on paper," from paper (n.). Meaning "to decorate a room with paper hangings" is from 1774. Related: Papered; papering. Verbal phrase paper over in the figurative sense is from 1955, from the notion of hiding plaster cracks with wallaper.

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paper

adj.

1590s, from paper (n.). Figurative of something flimsy or unsubstantial from 1716. Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong. Paper doll attested from 1849; paper plate from 1723.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with paper over

paper over

Also, paper over the cracks. Repair superficially, conceal, especially flaws. For example, He used some accounting gimmicks to paper over a deficit, or It was hardly a perfect settlement, but they decided to paper over the cracks. The German statesman Otto von Bismarck first used this analogy in a letter in 1865, and the first recorded example in English, in 1910, referred to it. The allusion is to covering cracked plaster with wallpaper, thereby improving its appearance but not the underlying defect.

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paper

In addition to the idiom beginning with paper

  • paper over

also see:

  • on paper
  • push paper
  • walking papers
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.