Idioms

    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.

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. 2019


Examples from the Web for papers

Contemporary Examples of papers

Historical Examples of papers

  • He was seated at a table with a variety of papers spread out before him.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • As matters stand, I don't care to have papers, so freely written, about me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • There are some papers and some money I must possess myself of.

  • It did help the milliner, too, for I bought three and they were printed in the papers.

  • Perhaps you think I don't read anything but the daily papers.


British Dictionary definitions for papers

paper

noun

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
a single piece of such material, esp if written or printed on
(usually plural) documents for establishing the identity of the bearer; credentials
Also called: ship's papers (plural) official documents relating to the ownership, cargo, etc, of a ship
(plural) collected diaries, letters, etc
a lecture or short published treatise on a specific subject
a short essay, as by a student
  1. a set of written examination questions
  2. the student's answers
commerce See commercial paper
theatre slang a free ticket
on paper in theory, as opposed to factit was a good idea on paper, but failed in practice

adjective

made of paperpaper cups do not last long
thin like paperpaper walls
(prenominal) existing only as recorded on paper but not yet in practicepaper profits; paper expenditure
taking place in writingpaper battles

verb

to cover (walls) with wallpaper
(tr) to cover or furnish with paper
(tr) theatre slang to fill (a performance) by giving away free tickets (esp in the phrase paper the house)
See also paper over
Derived Formspaperer, noun

Word Origin for paper

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 papers

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.

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.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with papers

paper

In addition to the idiom beginning with paper

  • paper over

also see:

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