[puh-pahy-ruh s]
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noun, plural pa·py·ri [puh-pahy-rahy, -ree] /pəˈpaɪ raɪ, -ri/, pa·py·rus·es.
  1. a tall, aquatic plant, Cyperus papyrus, of the sedge family, native to the Nile valley: the Egyptian subspecies, C. papyrus hadidii, thought to be common in ancient times, now occurs only in several sites.
  2. a material on which to write, prepared from thin strips of the pith of this plant laid together, soaked, pressed, and dried, used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
  3. an ancient document, manuscript, or scroll written on this material.

Origin of papyrus

1350–1400; Middle English papirus < Latin papȳrus < Greek pápȳros
Related formspa·py·ral, pa·pyr·i·an [puh-pir-ee-uh n] /pəˈpɪr i ən/, pa·py·rine [puh-pahy-rin] /pəˈpaɪ rɪn/, adjectivepap·y·ri·tious [pap-uh-rish-uh s] /ˌpæp əˈrɪʃ əs/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for papyrus


noun plural -ri (-raɪ) or -ruses
  1. a tall aquatic cyperaceous plant, Cyperus papyrus, of S Europe and N and central Africa with small green-stalked flowers arranged like umbrella spokes around the stem top
  2. a kind of paper made from the stem pith of this plant, used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans
  3. an ancient document written on this paper

Word Origin for papyrus

C14: via Latin from Greek papūros reed used in making 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 papyrus

late 14c., from Latin papyrus "the paper plant, paper made from it," from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," said to be of Egyptian origin. Proper plural is papyri.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper