Green’s Dictionary of Slang

paper n.

also papers

1. money, usu. notes.

[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 30 Aug. 1106/2: While we were drinking that, a stranger came in, and pulled out some papers, which seemed as if he had some intention to game [...] Do you mean by papers, bank notes? – They did so appear to me, but I did not take one of them in my hand; it appeared to be bank notes.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 46: Only six months has this child of love dealed out her charms in public, but well knowing their value, is not quite satisfied if she does not receive on paper a proof of their excellence.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 79: He knew of a thick paper concern (meaning the Paisley Union bank).
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 248/2: I can remember the time when I would take nothing but paper; always tissue, nothing under a flimsy. Ah!
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 358: I peddled tin [...] trying to make enough to stake myself to a ride back to New York, but I couldn’t get enough of the papers.
[US]N.-Y. American 7 Aug. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 157: The Giants were not there with the old paper.
[UK]‘Dornford Yates’ Berry and Co 11: I shall take the plate round, and from you four I shall accept nothing but paper.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Trouble Is My Business’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 204: You hold fifty grand of the boy’s paper.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 221: I was manipulating paper all over the shop in my cinemas, trotting and bus companies and could get away with it, by hang, while my credit was good.
[UK]B. Beckham My Main Mother 134: Ten papers, ten greenbacks, brother [...] You wanna cop?
[US]E. Torres After Hours 83: Italianos. Heavy paper [...] These people got the money.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 89: You know, this ‘paper’ [money] thang ain’t gonna last forever.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 49: A vicious drunk who socked her up [...] for the paper she made slinging hash.
[WI]M. Montague Dread Culture 177: ‘Yuh know how di business go. Mi people waan dem papers now.’ ‘Yuh haffi give mi more time, man. Mi have some of di money, but mi still short.’.
[US]UGK ‘Quit Hatin’ the South’ [lyrics] We gettin paper in the South... (gettin money).
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 33: This is where the money is at and everybody and their momma is getting the paper up to get it.
[UK]Skepta ‘2+2x2 [lyrics] Me and my mandem are making paper we don't care about you.
Young M.A. ‘Brooklyn Popin’’ [lyrics] If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t poppin’ / f you ain't got no paper, you ain’t poppin’.

2. any form of money order, IOU, promissory note or financial document other than actual cash.

[UK]Foote The Bankrupt II ii: No, that mint is exhausted, and private paper return’d to its primitive value.
[UK]F. Reynolds How to Grow Rich I i: I’ve nothing but paper.
[UK]J. Mackcoull Abuses of Justice 85: He had amassed a very considerable fortune by this fraudulent business, and particularly by negotiating stolen bills, called smashing thick paper.
[UK]‘Peter Corcoran’ ‘King Tims the First’ in Fancy 35: A homely tradesman the other day was addressed by one of the Inspectors of the Bank of England, [...] with, ‘Well, Mr. Plasterer, how are you?’ to which honest Plasterer, with true trading propriety answered, ‘Pretty well, thank’e; how are you, Mr. Paper-Hanger!’.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 554: When I say paper, I mean bills.
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis II 259: It was whispered among the tradesmen, bill-discounters, and others [...] that the Captain’s paper was henceforth of no value.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act III: Mossop and Mills — good paper — ninety-nine, eight, two — at sixty days.
[UK]quoted in Mons. Merlin 13 Nov. 6/3: Poor Tom, sir, did all he knew to get a little bit of paper done, but couldn’t bring it off, and now he’s gone a cracker over head and ears, and must bolt or pay up.
[US]S. Bailey Ups and Downs of a Crook’s Life 15: He said to them that I was going to ‘lay down’ a paper at the ‘jug’ and pull off a good big trick.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 197: There wasn’t a money-lender in the metropolis who didn’t hold some of that bright young nobleman’s paper.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 152: Cork Street won’t look at his lordship’s paper unless he can get the names of all three of his brothers-in-law on it!
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Sept. 1/1: His ‘paper’ is flying all over Perth in the fruitless hope of being liquidated.
[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 60: Paper, except for ‘Bradbury’s,’ of course, is anathaema to the crook.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 70: I could cash some paper and raise the $25,000.
[Ire]J.P. Donleavy Ginger Man (1958) 117: Allow me stay on payment of ten desperate papers redeemable in London.
[US]J. Thompson Texas by the Tail (1994) 36: Downing has taken his paper [...] More than fifty thousand dollars worth.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game 25: You got some paper for me to see.
[US]G.V. Higgins Rat on Fire (1982) 33: You got problems. Paper out all over town and you can’t meet it.
[UK]Guardian Guide 24–30 July 8: Paper billionaires are a C-note a dozen.

3. free passes of admission to a theatre or other entertainment.

[UK]Paul Pry 26 Mar. 4/2: I'm at the Italian opera now [...] if you'll say you’ll come, I'll send you a bit of paper for two to the stalls next week.
[Aus]Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) 10 Mar. 3/6: [from Dly News, London] Nothing, however, is more deceptive than a full ‘house;’ for no one, except the manager [...] knows whether it is filled with money or ‘paper’.
[UK]Mrs. J. Wood London Figaro 15 July n.p.: I have abolished the free order system from a firm belief that the best sort of paper for a theatre is Bank of England notes [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Feb. 1/2: Quoth the proud young manager:— ‘The paper at the back of my dress circle cost seventy-five shillings a yard.’ ‘Indeed,’ returned Gubbins, ’and how much did the paper in the stalls cost you?’.
[US]G.V. Hobart Jim Hickey 17: That's how I sized it [i.e. a play's receipts] up, and I allowed for the paper, same as you, Danny.
[UK]Wodehouse Gentleman of Leisure (2008) 3: ‘The Belle of Boulogne,’ in which Willett sustained the role of Cyrus K. Higgs, a Chicago millionaire, was slowly fading away on a diet of paper, and this possibly prejudiced him.

4. those who use free passes.

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 2 July [synd. col.] ‘The Paperhanger’ — an old press agent [...] if you’ve got a flop show he can fill the house with ‘paper’ customers (passes and 50c) on six hours’ notice.

5. (UK Und.) counterfeit banknotes.

[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act I: I have the beautifullest lot of bank of England flimsies that ever came out of Birmingham. It’s the safest paper to work, and you should have it cheap, dirt cheap, and credit till you’d planted it.

6. (US) playing cards.

[UK] ‘The Devil & Johnny Dixon’ Bentley’s Misc. Mar. 257: ‘The deal is yours. What an infernal ass I am to touch paper,’ says he.
[US]Weekly Rake 24 Sept. 2/2: J. N., [...] never meddles with any other game of chance, and by constant study of ‘the papers,’ makes a good living of it [i.e. card-playing].
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 35: ‘Show your papers, Cap,’ said Giles, seeing him hesitate. ‘As I cannot show anything worth seeing, I’ll let you take the money, Mr. Giles,’ said the Captain, carefully putting his cards in the pack.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 16: papers n. Playing cards.
Bystander (London) 8 Oct. 58/2: I have the strongest objection to anyone speaking of his cards as ‘paper’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Papers, playing cards.

7. (US) an admission ticket, e.g. to a dance; also a forged ticket.

[US]Night Side of N.Y. 112: The vociferous speculators in tickets, who try to force their ‘paper’ on the unwary. [...] The ticket may be a genuine one, or it may not.

8. (US) marked cards.

J. Maskelyne Sharps and Flats 43: In America their employment is confined chiefly to mining camps, where one may still find ‘saloons’ which are stocked entirely with this kind of ‘paper’ as the cards are called .
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 239: ‘Marked paper,’ as crooked cards are called, is used most frequently.
[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ Coll. Stories (1990) 188: Brightlights was flipping them from the deck and he was taking the ‘paper,’ the marked ones, from the turn.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 37: In the early days of Poker the marked cards used by sharpers were prepared beforehand by the gamblers themselves, and were known as ‘paper’; or were marked during the process of the game with the finger nail or a needle point embedded in a ring.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 182: In one game, they were using the ‘paper’ vernacular for marked cards.
[US]J. Scarne Complete Guide to Gambling.

9. (US) posters or similar publicity material.

[US]Cincinnati Enquirer 7 Sept. 10/7: Paper – Printing.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 206: It’s no fun to see that paper go up, bang! right before your ogles.
[US]W. Irwin Confessions of a Con Man 72: The circus was placarded for about twenty miles [...] if I could get away from our paper the trick was half turned.

10. (US) a forged or useless cheque or other financial instrument.

implied in paper hanger n.
[US]Sun (N.Y.) 19 Feb. 28/2: To establish confidence the racketeer may sell a good stock first and induce an exchange for worthless paper.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 152/1: Paper. 1. Forged checks, stocks, or bonds.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 811: paper – Bad checks or counterfeit money.
[US]Smith & Gay Heroin in Perspective.
[US]S.L. Hills Tragic Magic 47: His speciality was mainly checks – a paper man.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 139: This paper shit is all new to me.

11. (drugs) cigarette papers, esp. when used for rolling marijuana cigarettes.

[US]H.V. O’Brien diary 6 June Wine, Women and War (1926) 113: The soft khaki shirt, pockets bulging with note-books* [...] *Bull Durham and ‘papers!’.
[US] (ref. to 1910) D. Maurer ‘Lingo of the Good People’ AS X:1 19/1: paper. A cigarette paper.
[US]Kerouac letter 25 Mar. in Charters II (1999) 20: He justs sits there with his papers rolling up packets that he sells.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 176: Maybe what really got you high was the rolling paper not the dope.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 249: papers 1. Cigarette rolling papers.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 July 5: Every newsagent has king-sized papers by the till.

12. any form of legal or similarly authoritative documentation, e.g. a marriage certificate, prison documentation, a search warrant.

[US]S. Ford Torchy 16: He tries to tell me that this minin’ business is all a bunko game, and that there’s a paper out for the boss.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 249: Joe [...] will get the papers.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 152/1: Paper. [...] 4. (P) A court writ, especially one of habeas corpus.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 216: [He] brought her back to court for violating her paper.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 249: papers [...] 2. Marriage certificate.
[US]Maledicta V:1+2 (Summer + Winter) 267: The inmate’s papers are his documents dealing with his parole application which, when approved, makes him short.
[US]R. Price Clockers 5: Knocko can’t get through an apartment door without having paper [...] signed by a judge.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 92: You [...] get a girl, use a credit card and follow the paper.

13. in drug uses.

(a) a sheet of paper impregnated with a drug in solution or any other form of smuggling drugs into prison.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 in AS XI:2 94/1: paper. A smuggled bindle wrapped in thin tinfoil and placed inside a postcard which has been slit with a razor blade and then smoothed under a hot iron. The postcard may then be mailed to a prisoner.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.

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

[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 64: In a few minutes some 15 or 20 drug addicts had been served their ‘papers’.
[US]B. Dai Opium Addiction in Chicago 202: Paper of stuff. A very small quantity of drugs done up in paper.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in AS XIII:3 188/2: paper. Var. cigarette paper. A bindle of drugs, especially burnese or heroin.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 121: [He] waits for someone to walk out on the chance he may be holding a paper.
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia 167: They got me in the patrol car, and began shooting questions like’When did I take my last fix’ [...] ‘What was I paying a paper?’.
[US]Cressey & Ward Delinquency, Crime, and Social Process 821: I had me a five-cent paper. Did it in (injected the heroin).
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 39: I owe Vito’s clique twenty papers.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 75: Paper also Quarter Paper Paper refers to a unit of measure of drugs in powder form, usually heroin or cocaine. [...] The most common size paper is the 25-dollar paper called a quarter paper.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 377: Trying to hustle a paper of heroin, a tab of acid, a quart of home brew.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 16: Paper — A dosage unit of heroin; one-tenth of a gram or less of the drug ice or methamphetamine.

(c) a drug prescription.

in Teacher’s Resource Guide on Drug Abuse.
[US]R. Gilmore Drug Education Hbk.
in Cull & Hardy Types of Drug Users.

(d) crack cocaine.

[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 24: Pitchers (street-level dealers) don’t clock the real paper.

(e) a small amount of methamphetamine.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 16: Paper — A dosage unit of heroin; one-tenth of a gram or less of the drug ice or methamphetamine.

14. (US tramp) a railroad ticket.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 141: Paper.– A railroad ticket, especially if for a long journey, when the ticket usually requires several inches of paper, on which are indicated junctions, roads concerned, etc.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 811: paper – A railroad ticket.

15. (US prison) proof that a prisoner is an informer.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Paper: Proof that a prisoner is an informant or ‘rat.’ As in ‘We’ve got the paper on him.’.

16. (US Und.) a murder contract.

[US]Simon & Pelecanos ‘Bad Dreams’ Wire ser. 2 ep. 11 [TV script] I put the motherfuckin’ paper out on you all, but you was fuckin’ with my stash.

In derivatives

paperer (n.)

one who issues or receives free passes to a theatre or other entertainment.

[UK]Referee 14 June in Ware (1909) 192/2: Results showed that the ‘paperer’ understood his business.
[UK] ‘’Arry and the New Woman’ in Punch 18 May 230/1: I took Lil [...] to the play, with some tickets I’d got. / Well, paperers musn’t be choosers.

In compounds

paperback (n.)

(US) a dollar bill.

[US]B. Appel Brain Guy (2005) 84: I know when they got the paperbacks.
paper chaser (n.)

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

[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] paper chaser Definition: person who is on the hunt for money, usually a reference to drug dealers. Example: That paper chaser be going around the block in his big bout-it Benz just looking for honeys and the sad part is why would any dumb ass nigga wanna find money in East St. Louis.
paper hanger (n.)

see separate entry.

paper man (n.)

(Aus.) a convict holding a ticket of leave.

[UK]Guardian (Hobart) 25 Mar. 6: Peter Allen, free, charged with having been drunk, was fined 5s. James Pearson, t.l., ditto, but not ditto as to punishment, (being a ‘paper man,’) he was ordered 3 months road-making.
Guardian (Hobart) 26 Apr. 2: The holder of a ticket-of-leave was fined £10 by the Longford Bench; he had the audacity to appeal [...] The moment the magistrate ascertained what was intended, he had proceedings taken, and recommended the unlucky wight of a ‘paper’ man, to have his indulgence revoked; and revoked it was—meanwhile the appeal was heard and quashed.
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]

a society wedding.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
paper mill (n.)

(US) a small, unstable bank.

[US]Morning Courier and N.-Y. Enquirer 2 Mar. 2/1: [Small denomination bank-notes are issued by] paper mills in other states, and whenever these mills blow up either by roguery or misfortune, the loss generally fell upon the poor [because the well-to-do don’t keep such money].
paper pusher (n.) [pusher n. (3c)]

1. (US Und.) one who passes counterfeit notes.

[US]J. Tully in Amer. Mercury Apr. 427/2: The best paper pusher in the West. His racket had been to steal post-office money-order blanks and stamps, and then make his own money-orders.
[US]D. Maurer in AS XVI 248/2: Paperhanger, a professional who passes forged checks. Also kid-glove worker, passer, paper-pusher, pusher, shover, the last three terms being reserved for men who pass counterfeit money.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. Supplement II 669: The colleague who works off counterfeit money is a paper-pusher.
[UK]R. De Sola Crime Dict. 111/1: Paper pusher, person passing counterfeit money.

2. see also SE compounds below.

paper-skull (n.)

(US) a fool.

[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 73: These paper-skulls will hoora! and if they onct be made tu think we are on their side .

In phrases

burn paper (v.)

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

[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 148: You wanna fuck around with Susan do it on your own time. Not burning paper we set ya up with.
hang paper (v.)

(US Und.) to pass counterfeit cheques or similar financial documents.

[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 163: If things didn’t break right he could always ‘hang some paper.’ He’d always been pretty good at tracing signatures.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 76: The term ‘hanging paper’ is nonprofessional, used by pulp writers and policemen. No thief would ever use the term.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 96: Someone would arrive who had hung a great deal of paper before getting gaffled.
[US]D. Pearce Cool Hand Luke (1967) 68: A young college man from Boston who had been sent up [...] for hanging five thousand dollars woth of paper in a half-dozen night clubs.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 206: hang paper, v. – to pass bad checks.
[US]C. Keane Hunter 17: Billy Joe had ‘hung paper’ in Los Angeles for over $6,000 and got caught trying to pass one.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 268: Ronnie had lots of money from hanging bad paper.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.
have paper(s) on (v.) [one’s marriage certificate]

(US black) to be legally married.

[US]E. Folb Urban Black Argot 136: You Don’t Have Papers on Me ‘you don’t own me;’ ‘you’re not married to me’.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 136: Wait a minute, hold it! You don’t have papers on me, so you cain’t tell me what to do. [Ibid.] 241: have papers Be married.
[US]Dr Dre ‘Housewife’ [lyrics] I mostly sold dick while I packed a gold clip / Worked my money-maker, she got paper, she bout to trip.
hold paper on (v.)

to stand as a creditor to someone.

Commerce Car Journal XXXII 42: The finance companies of the state holding paper on such vehicles are very much alarmed over the situation.
testimony to Alaska Earthquake hearings US Congress 121: As a lender holding paper on homes in Alaska, we would make this tentative suggestion.
D. Lehane Gone Baby, Gone 53: I know someone holding paper on your ass.
P. Bulone Joey Rags 8: He was holding paper on him. Fazio owed fifteen big ones.
hot paper (n.) [hot adj. (5f)]

(US Und.) any form of fraudulent document, esp. of a financial nature, e.g. a fake cheque.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 124: hot papers Stolen bonds.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 154: Benton wrote his first ‘hot paper’.
lay paper (v.) (also sling paper)

(US Und.) to pass counterfeit money or stolen cheques.

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 256: Laying Paper. Passing worthless checks.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 410: Laying paper. Passing worthless checks.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 75: ‘Laying paper’ is the term used in a general sense by thieves to refer to the negotiation of checks, drafts, bills of lading, mortgages, etc. It does not include passing currency.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 323: Lay paper, To pass bad checks.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 48: sling paper To pass bad cheques. ‘I ain’t been arrested for nothin’ but slingin’ paper.’.
make paper (v.) [make v. (1f)]

(US prison) to be granted parole.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 101: Paper literally means parole or probation and is derived from the parole papers containing the rules and conditions of the parole the inmate must sign before being granted parole. ‘He made paper today.’.
[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Make Paper: Make parole.
on paper [one’s paper ‘ticket-of-leave’]

(US Und.) on parole.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 101: Paper When an inmate is granted parole, he is referred to as being on paper.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Time After Time’ Wire ser. 3 ep. 1 [TV script] What make you think I ain’t on paper or some shit?
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 106: You just mad cause you still on paper.
pass paper (v.)

to use forged cheques, stolen credit cards.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 95: She is more upgraded, she knows how to pass paper [forged cheques, credit cards].

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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

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

[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Paper boy (noun) A guy who has been around the neighborhood more than the paper boy; male hoe; someone extremely dirty.

2. see also sl. compounds above.

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

a ballad (or other form of printed material) that is sold on the street.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 224/2: Hardly a slum worth a crust [...] to us. A slum’s a paper fake — make a foot-note of that, sir.
paper maker (n.)

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

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

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.

[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 168: The paper makers get the tats and never tip the motts a posh, but fence the milky ones with some swag chovey bloak.
[UK] ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: The paper makers get the tats, and never tip the mots a posh, but fence the milky ones with some swag chovey bloak. The men who pretend they are from a paper mill obtain the rags, and never pay the women (of the houses they call at) anything, and then sell the white rags to some marine store dealer.
paper pusher (n.)

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

Infantry Journal (US) 25: In twenty minutes McCollum had [...] determined to his own satisfaction that Bert would never be any good as a lawyer or in fact as any kind of a paper-pusher.
[UK]Encounter May 14: The ‘white-collar workers’ have out-numbered the ‘blue-collar workers’; there are now more paper-pushers than tool-pushers.
[US]B. Adler Vietnam Letters (2003) 21 Aug. 101: All the rest are [...] paper pushers, pill rollers and legal clerks.
[US]A. Maupin More Tales of the City (1984) 145: If you plan to keep pushing paper, you might as well forget about the other agencies.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 89: Khe Sanh paperpushers scurrry out of my way.
[US](con. 1969) N.L. Russell Suicide Charlie 132: That worked out to about 120,000 guys like me, swimming in the dust at Mole City II while the rest drove trucks, pushed paper, and did all the other things it takes to fight a war.
[UK]Guardian G2 23 Feb. 6: The workers who were actually producing rather than the paper-pushers and memo-writers.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 126: It’s typical of a tinpot Latin paper-pusher to make stupid quips.

2. see also sl. compounds above.

In phrases

peddle one’s paper (v.)

(US) to go about one’s business.

[US]FWP NYC N.Y. Panorama 156: Go peddle your papers [...] may mean go away; be a good fellow and leave; go away before you get hurt; mind your own business, you lug . . ; or leave us alone, can’t you see we’re busy? [DARE].
[US]WELS n.p.: (Expressions used to tell somebody to keep to himself and mind his own business) 4 Infs, WI, Go (or just, run along and) peddle your papers [DARE].
in J.S. Redding On Being Negro in America 108: Yah-yah nigger nigger, go peddle your papers, nigger!
[US] in DARE.
M.W. Froehlich Hide Crawford Quick 37: She tore loose from Lizzie and Burniss and ran straight at the rooster, swinging her lunch box and crying, ‘You go peddle your papers!’.
Mendele: Yiddish Lit. and Lang. 5 Jan. [Internet] Hobn in bod is the equivalent of being told to go fly a kite or to go peddle one’s papers.
J.A. McDaniel Raudy Joe, the Kid in New Mexico 88: ‘Go peddle your papers, Kid. I’m not going.’ ‘What does peddle papers mean?’ ‘The same as when your dad tells you to chase a rabbit.’.
square paper (n.)

(US Und.) an honest, respectable person.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 198: I’ve seen thousands of marks who claimed to be square paper, but had all the corners torn off.