One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem of a water plant, used in sheets throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for writing or painting on and also for making rope, sandals, and boats.
- ‘The ancient Egyptians either engraved the hieroglyphs in the stonework of their temples or painted them on the walls of the burial chamber or inscribed them with a reed pen on rolls of papyrus, the antecedent of our paper.’
- ‘The ramps were built out of clay, wood and papyrus.’
- ‘He noted down on a papyrus or an ostraka a full record of the grain measured so that a definite tax liability could be determined.’
- ‘The documents of the early medieval period in Italy take the following shape: no more than about fifty documents survive from the sixth and seventh centuries, nearly all on papyrus, and nearly all from Ravenna.’
- ‘Documents written on papyri were found in some pyramid temples, especially at Abusir.’
- 1.1 A document written on papyrus.
- ‘The papyri contain remarkable information written by Philodemus describing the arguments of his teacher Zeno with the Stoics.’
- ‘A papyrus from Ancient Egypt cites juniper berries as an ingredient for a medicine to treat tape worms and juniper is still widely used by the pharmaceutical industry today.’
- ‘The Anonymus Londinensis papyrus points to an ancient confusion about the historical Hippocrates' pathological doctrines.’
- ‘The dates are calculated from ancient lists, especially the Turin royal papyrus, and from various other sources.’
- ‘One of the oldest surviving mathematical writings is the Rhind papyrus, named after the Scottish Egyptologist A Henry Rhind who purchased it in Luxor in 1858.’
2The tall aquatic sedge from which papyrus is obtained, native to central Africa and the Nile valley.
Cyperus papyrus, family Cyperaceae
- ‘Set the lily at the bottom of the container; the papyrus and forget-me-not should be positioned on stacked bricks so that their crowns are two-to-four inches below the water's surface.’
- ‘Some farmers cleared papyrus from the lower wetlands to cultivate rice, not realising that by releasing an oil on the water's surface, the papyrus had acted as a barrier against certain mosquitoes.’
- ‘His first design was created in a low bowl with fatsia leaves, Scots pine, oak leaves, strelitzia leaves and papyrus, then three large alliums and Singapore orchids were placed with skeletonised tenax leaves and some moss.’
- ‘We had beached along a spot in the Nile heavy with papyri, a small tributary.’
- ‘Around 3000 B.C., the Egyptians developed a writing material using papyrus, the plant for which paper is named.’
Late Middle English (in papyrus (sense 2)): via Latin from Greek papuros. Sense 1 dates from the early 18th century.
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