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To repair, conceal, or cover up something on a superficial level, without addressing underlying problems. A noun or pronoun can be used between "paper" and "over." The company papered over the catastrophe with empty promises, but the circumstances that led to the tragic accident have yet to be addressed. They papered over the cracks in their relationship by traveling as often as possible.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
paper over something
1. Lit. to put a layer of wallpaper on a wall. We papered over the wall, giving the room a bright, new look. We papered over the old plaster on the wall.
2. to cover up some sort of blemish on a wall with wallpaper. We papered over a lot of little cracks. Sam papered over all the flaws in the plaster wall.
3. Fig. to conceal something; to cover something up. Don't try to paper over the mess you have made. George tried to paper over all his mistakes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, paper over the cracks. Repair superficially, conceal, especially flaws. For example, He used some accounting gimmicks to paper over a deficit, or It was hardly a perfect settlement, but they decided to paper over the cracks. The German statesman Otto von Bismarck first used this analogy in a letter in 1865, and the first recorded example in English, in 1910, referred to it. The allusion is to covering cracked plaster with wallpaper, thereby improving its appearance but not the underlying defect.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To cover something unpleasant, such as a blemish on a wall, with paper: He papered over the cracks in the ceiling. She papered the walls over to hide the stains.
2. To put or keep something out of sight; downplay something: The accountant papered the deficit over with questionable calculations. The principal papered over the school's problem with drugs when questioned by the press.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
paper over something
tv. to try to conceal something unpleasant; to try to cover up a misdeed. This is a severe social problem. Don’t try to paper over it.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
paper over (the cracks), to
To patch up; to repair in a makeshift way. The term alludes to paperhanging—that is, covering cracks in the walls with wallpaper. It allegedly was used by Otto von Bismarck in 1865 to describe the outcome of the Convention of Gastein, where, after Denmark’s defeat, it was agreed that Austria would administer the Danish province of Holstein and Prussia would govern Denmark itself. An English translation of 1910 quoted Bismarck as saying it “papered over the cracks.” The expression has been so used ever since.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer