1590s, "made of paper, consisting of paper," from paper (n.). Figurative of something flimsy or unsubstantial from 1716, probably on the notion of "appearing merely in written or printed statements, not tangible or existing in reality." Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong. Paper doll is attested by 1817; paper plate "disposable plate made of paper or cardboard" is from 1723. Paper money is from 1690s.
type of confection, 1895, American English, apparently a word first used among students at women's colleges; perhaps a special use from fudge (v.) or its noun derivative, via the notion of "insubstantial" or of something "faked-up" on the spot. The verb was used in school slang, and compare fudge (n.) "a made-up story" (1797).
'He lies,' answered Lord Etherington, 'so far as he pretends I know of such papers. I consider the whole story as froth — foam, fudge, or whatever is most unsubstantial. ...' [Scott, "St. Ronan's Well," 1823]
1640s, "downy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), of unknown origin; one theory is that it is a corruption of Silesia, the German region, where thin linen or cotton fabric was made for export. Silesia in reference to cloth is attested in English from 1670s; and sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from 1670), but OED is against this. Sense of "sordid" is from 1941. Related: Sleazily; sleaziness.
A day is a more magnificent cloth than any muslin, the mechanism that makes it is infinitely cunninger, and you shall not conceal the sleazy, fraudulent, rotten hours you have slipped into the piece, nor fear that any honest thread, or straighter steel, or more inflexible shaft, will not testify in the web. [Emerson, "The Conduct of Life," 1860]