mid-14c., from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier "paper, document," from Latin papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks" (see papyrus).
Meaning "paper money" attested from 1722. As shortened form of newspaper, first attested 1640s. In plural, "collection of papers to establish one's identity, credentials, etc.," it is attested from 1680s. Paper chase is British slang from 1932.