[pey-per-muh-shey, -ma-; French pa-pyey-mah-shey]
  1. a substance made of pulped paper or paper pulp mixed with glue and other materials or of layers of paper glued and pressed together, molded when moist to form various articles, and becoming hard and strong when dry.
  1. made of papier-mâché.
  2. easily destroyed or discredited; false, pretentious, or illusory: a papier-mâché façade of friendship.

Origin of papier-mâché

1745–55; < French: literally, chewed paper Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for papier-mache

Historical Examples of papier-mache

  • Why, look at our two others yonder: they have papier-mache faces, too!


    Emile Zola

  • "I don't hold with any make of papier-mache wheel," the Mogul insisted.

  • But we havent so much as a papier-mache Easter chick, objected Louise.

    Winona of the Camp Fire

    Margaret Widdemer

  • Then came floats with papier-mache figures caricaturing political events in the history of the Republic.

  • As she hung her wrap in the corner of her room, her eye fell upon the papier-mache lunch box.

    The Secret Mark

    Roy J. Snell

British Dictionary definitions for papier-mache


  1. a hard strong substance suitable for painting on, made of paper pulp or layers of paper mixed with paste, size, etc, and moulded when moist
  1. made of papier-mâché

Word Origin for papier-mâché

C18: from French, literally: chewed paper
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 papier-mache

also papier mache, 1753, from French papier-mâché, literally "chewed paper," from Old French papier "paper" (see paper (n.)) + mâché "compressed, mashed," from past participle of mâcher, literally "to chew," from Late Latin masticare "masticate" (see mastication).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper