This happened with me. I asked my daughter to get me a blank paper and she gave me this.

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When I asked this is not the blank paper, she said it is, there's nothing written on this.

Whereas I was asking for this -

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If I say give me a lined paper, this is also a lined paper but it's not blank.

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If I say give me a lined blank paper, how is it blank? It has lines on it! :)

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    NOAD says: blank (adj.) not written or printed on. Your daughter was correct :^) She may not have given you what you wanted, but she gave you what you asked for.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2014 at 9:47
  • 4
    That ballpoint is not ubiquitous. I can never find it when I want it. Apr 8, 2014 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


The phrase you are looking for is plain paper. This means unlined paper. (It may or may not be blank.)

From the Cambridge dictionary:

plain paper
› paper that has no lines on it: a letter written on plain paper

As for blank paper, the free dictionary lists blank as:

1.a. Devoid of writing, images, or marks: a blank page; a blank screen.

which could imply (I'm not convinced it is 100% clear, but you could make the case for it) that lined paper that has not been written on is not blank, because of the lines.

However, from experience as a native speaker, I have found "blank paper" to be ambiguous: in practice, some people use it to mean completely blank and others use it to mean not yet written on.

For that reason, I would suggest using plain paper for a completely empty sheet and perhaps blank lined paper or unused lined paper to indicate that you want paper that has lines but hasn't been used. (Or you could just say lined paper - people will probably assume you want a clean sheet of it.)

  • 1
    @maulikv: As a boy in school (in, say, 1967--some things appear not to change quickly), my teachers constantly asked us to "take out a blank sheet of paper." This would be exactly the sort of paper that your daughter gave you. It may be ambiguous to a native speaker, but not to an American schoolteacher!
    – BobRodes
    Apr 8, 2014 at 21:50
  • @Bob I should clarify - it's often clearer in context (presumably you often/always used lined paper at school). In an art lesson, a "blank sheet of paper" could mean a plain sheet ;) Apr 8, 2014 at 21:58
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    I have to say I'd tend to assume "blank" meant "unwritten on" rather than "plain and unwritten on", but I couldn't find any dictionaries that made it clear - if anything they tended to lean the other way. Apr 8, 2014 at 21:59
  • @starsplusplus yes, absolutely. I didn't mean to attempt to refute what you said. Art paper is a great example of blank meaning devoid of markings. I was rather pointing out what Maulik's daughter's experience is likely to be.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 8, 2014 at 22:02
  • Plain paper with lines on it!! Jan 8, 2018 at 18:00

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