Definition of parchment in English:



mass noun
  • 1A stiff, flat, thin material made from the prepared skin of an animal, usually a sheep or goat, and used as a durable writing surface in ancient and medieval times.

    ‘he borrowed a quill and a piece of parchment’
    ‘his skin stretched like old parchment over his cheeks’
    as modifier ‘parchment rolls’
    • ‘In that year the chancery clerks began to keep copies, on rolls of parchment, of most of the letters - and certainly of all the important ones - sent out under the great seal.’
    • ‘He handed her a piece of old parchment then headed to the door.’
    • ‘His eyes were cold grey pebbles against the ancient parchment of his complexion.’
    • ‘The most important expression of public feeling came on great, stiff rolls of parchment.’
    • ‘Grasping the bag she felt the soft crinkle of old parchment beneath the worn cloth.’
    • ‘To complete his birdman outfit, the monk must have stretched parchment or thin cloth over the frame, which, we are told, he attached to both his arms and his feet.’
    • ‘Since then most societies have used horns of animals with the tips cut off and covered with parchment, leather, sponges, and cloths for infants to suckle.’
    • ‘I came always in the afternoon, for in the forenoon when I had finished my reading or writing I was at work spinning, or helping the monks prepare inks or parchment.’
    • ‘His skin felt like wet parchment, and I'll tell you a secret, I knew a little girl who would draw on him.’
    • ‘Her hair was blackened and sodden, and her skin was yellowing, like parchment or old bread.’
    • ‘But how good will you look if your skin turns to parchment decades before it should?’
    • ‘She laid the four pieces of parchment on the varnished surface of the table and paced up and down the length of the kitchen.’
    • ‘King James was sitting on his throne, reading from a thin piece of parchment.’
    • ‘Here the monks prepared the parchment, stretching it on frames and scraping it to make it smooth, after it had first been soaked in specially prepared liquids to condition it.’
    • ‘She was older, even by elf standards, and had grey hair and skin like old parchment.’
    • ‘Vellum, traditionally made from calf skin as opposed to parchment which is made from goat or sheep skin, is very expensive.’
    • ‘He began his audacious series of deceptions at the age of 17, when he was working in a lawyer's office with easy access to old parchment, deeds, and antiquated forms of writing.’
    • ‘The words had been scrawled onto the leathery parchment with a crude piece of charcoal.’
    • ‘He motioned Adriana to a chair and took his seat at a broad table covered with parchment rolls.’
    • ‘As Heather approached it she saw that it had a piece of decrepit parchment, all rolled up like a scroll.’
    1. 1.1count noun A manuscript written on parchment.
      ‘a large collection of ancient parchments’
      • ‘Three scrolls, eight parchments, and a book occupied the table when the dust settled.’
      • ‘The dark shape suddenly stood and stretched quickly, towering over the wrinkled old manuscripts and parchments.’
      • ‘The yellow parchments were written in five dominating languages, but these days of war brought few literate people.’
      • ‘In it was a rolled up parchment, ancient in its design yet kept in good condition.’
      • ‘While the Torah mentions tefillin, but gives no details, everyone throughout history has had the same black boxes, leather straps and identical parchments inside.’
      • ‘Turning a corner, he entered a room where several vampires were seated around a large wooden table with identical parchments set upon the tables for them to inspect.’
      • ‘The general impression is that the majority of them want to release terrorists onto our streets, in purblind deference to some mouldy medieval parchments with Latin names like Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus.’
      • ‘He would sit up there for hours pouring over books and parchments.’
      • ‘Instead of books however, rolls of parchments, scrolls, and the like were piled up on the shelves.’
      • ‘It was covered in books and parchments from the opposite wall of shelves, but it was one of few places to sit in the cluttered study.’
      • ‘The youngsters settled for the night, far too tired to read parchments or write letters.’
      • ‘Healer Marissa Shanloff raised a sheaf of parchments in the air.’
      • ‘Cluttered with long-forgotten books, parchments, and manuscripts - most many years old - she had just now managed to clear a space.’
      • ‘The table - covered with books, parchments, scrolls, and dust - was old and rickety.’
      • ‘Evidently, none of the thirteen scroll-bearers knew the real importance of the parchments that had been in their possession for the past five years.’
      • ‘With one curious glance back up at the wrinkled face, he quickly took the parchments, trying not to make contact with the Lord's hand.’
      • ‘Those books and parchments were precious to him.’
      • ‘Everywhere one looked, row after row of long oaken bookcases held scrolls, parchments and bound books.’
    2. 1.2 A type of stiff translucent paper treated to resemble parchment and used for lampshades, as a writing surface, and in baking.
      ‘line a 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment’
      • ‘Transfer into a large dish (glass, ceramic or earthenware) and cover the surface with a sheet of parchment paper.’
      • ‘Place the racks over parchment paper or a baking sheet and brush generously all over - bottoms, tops, and sides - with the syrup.’
      • ‘Cover the ribs with a circle of parchment paper and braise in the oven.’
      • ‘Lining a brioche or bread mold with butter and or buttered parchment paper allows the dense dough to rise evenly during its oven time.’
      • ‘Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and keep it close at hand.’
      • ‘Use your cutest cookie shapes to cut out cookies, and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or, even better, a silicon baking mat, not too close to one another.’
      • ‘Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.’
      • ‘Use a fork to lift the apricots from the bowl, and deposit them carefully on a feuille guitare, a sheet of parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.’
      • ‘This one was moist and tender, marinated in wine and tomatoes, baked in parchment paper, and served with dark-roasted potatoes.’
      • ‘Prepare a cookie sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.’
      • ‘Line a flat work surface with parchment and lay out a dozen crêpes.’
      • ‘Transfer the polenta cakes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.’
      • ‘Transfer the hazelnuts onto a silicon baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper, spreading them with the spoon to get them in just one layer.’
      • ‘For the poached pears: Cut out a circle of parchment paper large enough to cover the surface of a large saucepan.’
      • ‘Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour.’
      • ‘I used the term ‘pipe’ when I was describing how to place the Gougeres cheese dough on parchment paper.’
      • ‘Transfer mixture to small baking pan lined with parchment paper and spread to an even 1-inch thickness.’
      • ‘With a slotted spatula, place the boiled bagels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal.’
      • ‘Put the heads of garlic, cut side up, on baking sheet with parchment paper and bake until cloves are tender and light golden brown, about 35 minutes.’
      • ‘Robert baked a slab of king salmon in parchment paper and doused it with a sauce of honey, lime, and soy sauce.’
    3. 1.3informal count noun A diploma or other formal document.
      ‘she taught for two years till she got her parchment’


Middle English: from Old French parchemin, from a blend of late Latin pergamina ‘writing material from Pergamum’ and Parthica pellis ‘Parthian skin’ (a kind of scarlet leather).