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a thin, stiff pasteboard, used for signs, boxes, etc.
resembling cardboard, especially in flimsiness:
an apartment with cardboard walls.
not fully lifelike; shallow; two-dimensional:
a play with cardboard characters.
Contemporary Examples

The strobe lights in the cardboard bleachers flash and after a second take Coco nails her walk and gets whisked away for a nap.
‘The Puppy Bowl’: The Super Bowl’s Fiercest Rival Lori-Lee Emshey February 1, 2014

The train is literally made out of cardboard with smoke coming out of the top it.
The Look of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Andrew Romano March 6, 2014

UCE 48 presented Justice with a cardboard box containing two syringes and three vials of liquid.
The Vegas Suicide Mystery Winston Ross February 23, 2011

One of the cops cut into a cardboard box stuffed with little bags of Doritos.
Seattle Police Hand Out Doritos at Hempfest Winston Ross August 17, 2013

He said his name was Ricky Davies, and he had a cardboard sign next to him that said, “Please help me, I need work.”
Advocates Reached Out to Ronald Poppo Before He Was Face-Eating Victim Aram Roston June 3, 2012

Historical Examples

Heretofore it has been necessary to do the adjusting by means of inserting different thicknesses of cardboard, paper, etc.
Photogravure Henry R. Blaney

It was almost as fantastic to an English eye as if they had been all made of cardboard.
What I Saw in America G. K. Chesterton

Your audience will suggest putting something under the paper—a strip of cardboard or something of that kind.
Water Wizardry Arthur Ainslie

Another places on his nose a pair of wooden or cardboard spectacles.
The Devil’s Pool George Sand

Through the bottom of the cardboard insert a number of steel pins, one for each of the flowers to be preserved.
The Boy Mechanic, Book 2 Various


a thin stiff board made from paper pulp and used esp for making cartons
(as modifier): cardboard boxes

(prenominal) without substance: a cardboard smile, a cardboard general

1848, from card (n.) + board (n.1). Figurative sense is from 1893. An earlier word for the same stuff was card paper (1777).


Read Also:

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  • Card-catalog

    a file of cards of uniform size arranged in some definite order and listing the items in the collection of a library or group of libraries, each card typically identifying a single item. Historical Examples All of these card-catalog and other “devices” are a part of a great movement to put efficiency into every human […]

  • Card-clothing

    a very sturdy fabric with a leather or rubber fillet imbedded with wire teeth for disentangling and cleaning textile fibers, used to cover the rollers or flats of a carding machine.

  • Card-counter

    a casino player who memorizes or records which cards have been played in previous hands in order to calculate the odds on receiving winning cards or combinations from those remaining to be dealt, the practice often being held as illegal. noun See card counting

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