paper knife

  1. a small, often decorative, knifelike instrument with a blade of metal, ivory, wood, or the like, for slitting open envelopes, the leaves of books, folded papers, etc.

  2. the blade of a paper cutter.

Origin of paper knife

First recorded in 1800–10

Words Nearby paper knife Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use paper knife in a sentence

  • Mrs. Falchion had picked up a paper knife and was bending it to and fro between her fingers.

    Mrs. Falchion, Complete | Gilbert Parker
  • Quin traced the pattern in the table-cover with a massive brass paper-knife.

    Quin | Alice Hegan Rice
  • He took up a paper-knife from the table, and began to bend it in his hands.

    That Lass O' Lowrie's | Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • He took up his dagger paper-knife, tried its point on his palm with two or three reckless thrusts and threw it back on the desk.

    The Eternal City | Hall Caine
  • A chubby-faced office-boy, opening envelopes with a sharp steel paper-knife, was the only person to be seen.

    The Silver Poppy | Arthur Stringer

British Dictionary definitions for paperknife


/ (ˈpeɪpəˌnaɪf) /

nounplural -knives
  1. a knife with a comparatively blunt blade, esp one of wood, bone, etc, for opening sealed envelopes

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