Green’s Dictionary of Slang

paper n.

also papers

1. [late 18C; late 19C+] money, usu. notes.

2. [late 18C+] any form of money order, IOU, promissory note or financial document other than actual cash.

3. [late 18C+] free passes of admission to a theatre or other entertainment.

4. [late 18C+] those who use free passes.

5. [mid-19C] (UK Und.) counterfeit banknotes.

6. [mid-19C] (US) playing cards.

7. [mid-19C] (US) an admission ticket, e.g. to a dance; also a forged ticket.

8. [late 19C–1920s] (US) marked cards.

9. [late 19C–1940s] (US) posters or similar publicity material.

10. [20C+] (US) a forged or useless cheque or other financial instrument.

11. [1910s+] (drugs) cigarette papers, esp. when used for rolling marijuana cigarettes.

12. [1910s+] any form of legal or similarly authoritative documentation, e.g. a marriage certificate, prison documentation, a search warrant.

13. in drug uses.

(a) [1920s–40s] a sheet of paper impregnated with a drug in solution or any other form of smuggling drugs into prison.

(b) [1920s+] a measure of heroin, contained in a folded square of paper; thus a quarter paper, $25 worth of a narcotic.

(c) [1960s–70s] a drug prescription.

(d) [1990s+] crack cocaine.

(e) [2000s] a small amount of methamphetamine.

14. [1930s–60s] (US tramp) a railroad ticket.

15. [2000s] (US prison) proof that a prisoner is an informer.

16. (US Und.) a murder contract.

In derivatives

paperer (n.)

[late 19C] one who issues or receives free passes to a theatre or other entertainment.

In compounds

paperback (n.)

[1930s] (US) a dollar bill.

paper boy (n.)

1. [1960s] (drugs) a heroin peddler.

2. see also SE compounds below.

paper chaser (n.)

[2000s] (US black) one who is looking for money, usu. a drug dealer.

paper fiend (n.) [fiend n. (1)]

[1940s–50s] (drugs) one who sucks the amphetamine-impregnated strips from an amphetamine inhaler.

paper hanger (n.)

see separate entry.

paper man (n.)

[mid-19C] (Aus.) a convict holding a ticket of leave.

paper marriage (n.) [the banknotes employed in funding such a wedding; there may be an added implication of paper, spurious, i.e. the marriage is for social convenience rather than love]

[late 19C] a society wedding.

paper mill (n.)

[mid-19C] (US) a small, unstable bank.

paper pusher (n.) [pusher n. (3c)]

1. [1920s–80s] (US Und.) one who passes counterfeit notes.

2. see also SE compounds below.

paper-skull (n.)

(US) a fool.

paperwork (n.) [pun on SE paperwork, documents]

[1990s+] money.

In phrases

big paper (n.) (also tall paper) [SE big/tall adj. (3c)]

[1990s+] (US black) a great deal of money.

burn paper (v.)

[1970s] (US Und.) to pass counterfeit cheques, money orders or other financial instruments.

hang paper (v.)

[1930s+] (US Und.) to pass counterfeit cheques or similar financial documents.

have paper(s) on (v.) [one’s marriage certificate]

[1940s+] (US black) to be legally married.

hold paper on (v.)

[1920s+] to stand as a creditor to someone.

hot paper (n.) [hot adj. (5f)]

[1940s–50s] (US Und.) any form of fraudulent document, esp. of a financial nature, e.g. a fake cheque.

lay paper (v.) (also sling paper)

[20C+] (US Und.) to pass counterfeit money or stolen cheques.

make paper (v.) [make v. (1f)]

[1990s+] (US prison) to be granted parole.

on paper [one’s paper ‘ticket-of-leave’]

[1990s+] (US Und.) on parole.

pass paper (v.)

[1970s] to use forged cheques, stolen credit cards.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

paper boy (n.) [pun on SE paper boy]

1. [1990s+] a male who has had sex with a lot of people in his area; i.e. they have been around v. (1)

2. see also sl. compounds above.

paper-fake (n.) [fake v.1 (3)]

[mid-19C] a ballad (or other form of printed material) that is sold on the street.

paper maker (n.) [mid–late 19C]

1. a gatherer of rags and other saleable rubbish from the streets and gutters.

2. a beggar who poses as an agent of a paper-mill and is thus given cast-off rags, which are then sold for profit.

paper pusher (n.)

1. [1940s+] a bureaucrat or clerk of the lowliest rank, the implication being that they never write on, only push around, paper; thus push paper v.

2. see also sl. compounds above.

paper stainer (n.) [SE paper-stainer, an author]

[mid–late 19C] a clerk.

paper worker (n.)

[mid-19C] a street-seller of broadsides.

In phrases

peddle one’s paper (v.)

[1930s+] (US) to go about one’s business.

square paper (n.)

[1940s] (US Und.) an honest, respectable person.