Definition of parchment in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpärCHmənt/


1A stiff, flat, thin material made from the prepared skin of an animal and used as a durable writing surface in ancient and medieval times.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.1A manuscript written on parchment: a large collection of ancient parchments
More example sentences
  • The yellow parchments were written in five dominating languages, but these days of war brought few literate people.
  • The youngsters settled for the night, far too tired to read parchments or write letters.
  • Cluttered with long-forgotten books, parchments, and manuscripts - most many years old - she had just now managed to clear a space.
1.2 (also parchment paper) A type of stiff translucent paper treated to resemble parchment and used for lampshades, as a writing surface, and in baking.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and keep it close at hand.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
1.3 informal A diploma or other formal document.


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).

  • This comes from Old French parchemin, a blend of late Latin pergamina ‘writing material from Pergamum’ and Parthica pellis ‘Parthian skin’ (a kind of scarlet leather). The use of treated animal skin as a writing material, when papyrus was the usual material ( see paper), was traditionally said to have been invented by King Eumenes II of Pergamum (r.197–158 bc).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: parch·ment

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