written or clerical work, as records or reports, forming a necessary but often a routine and secondary part of some work or job.

Origin of paperwork

First recorded in 1580–90; paper + work Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for paperwork

administration, typing

Examples from the Web for paperwork

Contemporary Examples of paperwork

Historical Examples of paperwork

  • There's a lot of paperwork to such a sale, and it's all handled by the company.

    The Risk Profession

    Donald Edwin Westlake

  • His desk across the room was there for paperwork only, and Taggert had precious little of that to bother with.


    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • He sat down again and buried himself in paperwork, trying to avoid the edge of an old fear.


    Robert Sheckley

  • During my Administration we cut the paperwork burden by 15 percent, and we created procedures to continue this progress.

  • Isobel turned away and took up some paperwork, without further words.

    Border, Breed Nor Birth

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for paperwork



clerical work, such as the completion of forms or the writing of reports or letters
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 paperwork

1580s, "things made of paper," from paper (n.) + work (n.). Meaning "work done on paper" is from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper