In my mother tongue, there is a word for it, and it is a noun.

The action is observed when you think the paper is waste. You squeeze it, and it loses its texture/avatar. Then, it is no more straight or flat.

Here is the image. Check those papers. What have they become?

waste paper in a dustbin


I wanted to put everything in words. I tried it on a paper. I did not like it. I __________ it and threw it in a dustbin.

You find nothing in this dustbin except some __________ papers

  • 7
    A possible alternative with wad: I wad the paper up; a wad of paper; wadded balls of paper Dec 1, 2015 at 10:53
  • 11
    BTW, you are using the word avatar incorrectly.
    – TimR
    Dec 1, 2015 at 14:10
  • 2
    @TRomano Yeah but now I want to start using the word "avatar" in strange ways. I'm sure when I do, people will get funny looks on their avatars. Maybe when I go to the dry cleaners I'll ask them if they can give my shirts back their avatar. It's just a cool word. Dec 1, 2015 at 22:05
  • 3
    I'm going to take a wild guess that 'avatar' is being confused with 'shape' since both can refer to the 'physical form' of something. The difference is that 'avatar' typically means the physical incarnation of a deity in hinduism, whereas a 'shape' is the physical form of a real world object.
    – Pharap
    Dec 2, 2015 at 12:00
  • 1
    @DamkerngT. to "wad" is to pack tightly.
    – Ben
    Dec 2, 2015 at 14:45

5 Answers 5


Crumple is a good option.

I wanted to put everything in words. I tried it on a paper. I did not like it. I crumpled it and threw it in a dustbin.

You find nothing in this dustbin except some crumpled papers.

  • 6
    I'm 30 seconds late. +1
    – shin
    Dec 1, 2015 at 8:59
  • 5
    Do people really use other words (besides crumple) for this?
    – Yakk
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:50
  • 1
    @Andrew Grimm: your link doesn't work properly. It shows no graphic results. I think the asterisk in the url is giving SE problems.
    – TimR
    Dec 2, 2015 at 11:38
  • 5
    In the UK it's more usual to say "I crumpled it up"... here "up" acts informally as an intensifier.. Something which is "crumpled up" is more crumpled than something which is merely "crumpled".
    – Ben
    Dec 2, 2015 at 14:48
  • 1
    @yakk yes, obviously; see the other answers. i don't find it hard to believe that people in different regions of the world might use different words for the same concept.
    – user428517
    Dec 2, 2015 at 23:18

Another is "wadded up"

I wadded up the paper into a ball and threw it in the garbage.


verb (used with object), wadded, wadding.

  1. to form (material) into a wad.

8. to roll tightly (often followed by up): He wadded up his cap and stuck it into his pocket.

9. to hold in place by a wad: They rammed and wadded the shot into their muskets.

10. to put a wad into; stuff with a wad.

  • 5
    As a native American English speaker, 'wadded up' sounds the best and most-specific to me.
    – user151841
    Dec 1, 2015 at 16:59
  • 2
    @Ben It also has sense (7) above, “to form into a wad”. Since wad (noun) itself doesn't denote “tightly-packed,” wadded would appear to apply just fine. Dec 2, 2015 at 19:50
  • 5
    @Ben this appears to be a uk/american difference that you're unaware of. "wad" is extremely common for this use in am.e—every native am.e speaker would understand this meaning immediately. it's probably more common than "crumple" in am.e, although am.e does use "crumple" as well.
    – user428517
    Dec 2, 2015 at 23:09
  • 2
    +1 for regional difference: I'm in Canada, and "wadded up" sounds unfamiliar to me; "crumpled" or even "scrunched up" are common here.
    – sk29910
    Dec 3, 2015 at 2:39
  • 2
    To me, wadding (or balling) up a piece of paper is slightly different from scrunching/crumpling/screwing it up, in that wadding it up implies more determination and force, turning the paper into a compact ball. The other verbs can just be making a light, semi-ballish structure out of it, which wadding isn’t in my head. For instance, this is scrunched/screwed/crumpled (up), while this is wadded or balled up. Dec 3, 2015 at 9:11

"Balled up" is a good option. It visually explains what is done to the paper.

I wanted to put everything in words. I tried it on a paper. I did not like it. I balled it up and threw it in a dustbin.

You find nothing in this dustbin except some balled up papers.

  • 2
    What location is this common in? I have certainly never heard this used in British English.
    – Mark Booth
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:08
  • 8
    I've heard it used in American English. Along with "Scrunched up" and "wadded up".
    – Zessa
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:16

"Scrunched up papers" is exactly what you're looking for.

I wanted to put everything in words. I tried it on a paper. I did not like it. I scrunched it up and threw it in a dustbin.

You find nothing in this dustbin except some scrunched up papers

  • 1
    Use a right angular bracket [>] for that.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 1, 2015 at 9:01
  • 8
    This works, but note that it's very informal sounding. "Scrunch" is a "cute" word, and especially in this sense. (Normally, it means a person making themselves small, or tightening their face or hands, so this is anthropomorphic.)
    – mattdm
    Dec 1, 2015 at 14:12
  • 1
    This might be spot on in some places, but I've never heard it in my life in the USA. Maybe it's British? "Crumpled" is what I hear all the time. Dec 1, 2015 at 22:02
  • 2
    Why downvote an answer that's correct? An answer might be correct in one type of a language, but not in another. That doesn't mean it deserves a downvote. Dec 2, 2015 at 23:41
  • 2
    @killermist American English is not the same as Internet English. English on the Internet takes all kinds of different shapes and forms—and besides, scrunching up paper is perfectly valid in American English, too; see, for example, Merriam-Webster’s definition 2b. Papers are scrunched up all the time, even if not necessarily where you live. Dec 3, 2015 at 8:52

Screwed-up is an alternative to scrunched up.

I wanted to put everything in words. I tried it on a paper. I did not like it. I screwed it up and threw it in a dustbin.

You'll find nothing in this dustbin except some screwed-up papers.

As found in the Collins English dictionary:

Verb If you screw something such as a piece of paper into a ball, you squeeze it or twist it tightly so that it is in the shape of a ball. BRIT.

"He screwed the paper into a ball and tossed it into the fire."

AM use crush

  • 18
    In American English, this does not mean crumpled into a ball; it means "ruined by mistakes". My first assumption would be that the paper contained a form, and you filled it out wrong.
    – mattdm
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:02
  • 7
    In my experience (British English) this option would be far more commonly used than any of the other options presented.
    – Mark Booth
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:09
  • 7
    Yeah, this is definitely not American English. Screwed up is used in a VERY different way in AmE. I can't stress enough that this would get very confused looks and problems with understanding in America.
    – Zessa
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:13
  • 2
    Screwed up has multiple meanings. One meaning is to make a mistake (which I'd like to point out is a colloquialism), another is (according to wiktionary) "(transitive) To twist into a contorted state", which is the meaning applied here.
    – Pharap
    Dec 2, 2015 at 11:09
  • 2
    @JanusBahsJacquet To be clear, if a person were to use it in verbal conversation in Indianapolis, Indiana, I would take pause and ask for clarification what the person was trying to say. This is opposed to any person saying verbally that they scrunched, balled, or crumpled up the paper and [pick a form] discarded it. "Screwed up" == error. Used out of context == ambiguity.
    – killermist
    Dec 3, 2015 at 9:01

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