If a paper is submerged in water for some time then left to dry, most often the paper will be deformed. It won't be as flat as it was originally, but wavy (and not wrinkled).

This is most apparent in water damaged books:

A water damaged book

Q: What is the correct terminology for this type of deformation?

  • Tangentially related: Word for describing a book with its sheets separated.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:27
  • 4
    I usually just call it water damaged. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 16:33
  • 3
    I just came to Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts, US) and it's so humid here, I have books that did this just sitting on the table. Never got near water, just sucked the moisture right out the air. Now I know what to call this. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


Cockled. That is the paper conservator's technical term for wavy or rippled paper. See e.g. Laura Schell paper conservator:

Cockling Warped and wavy (cockled) paper may be restored to a planar condition by controlled humidification and flattening.

  • 11
    Interesting! I would have gone with the pedestrian 'warped'. +1
    – Patrick M
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 5:47
  • New one for me too. Very neat word! Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 9:07
  • 1
    To "cockle" as in to deform so that it takes on the appearance of a cockle (shellfish.) Professionals think up all the best terms. I would have gone for "warped" as well. In my own profession, I recently learned two new terms describing maldistribution of heat on furnace tubes: giraffe necking and tiger tailing (both taken from the appearance of the tubes.) Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    It's interesting how close this is to "crinkled", which is not only the word I more often hear to describe this paper, but is also the sound that dry, previously-wet paper makes when handled.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 18:36
  • 3
    @CarlSmith To my ear, crinkled implies actual creasing, not just wavy deformation.
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 3:26

As mentioned in some comments,

Warped - is the more general laymen term, but not quite as specific as Cockled (which I had not heard before)

Become or cause to become bent or twisted out of shape, typically as a result of the effects of heat or dampness[1]

  • 1
    Warped paints the wrong picture in my mind. It implies a single, large bend as opposed to a wavy, scalloped pattern - a single undulation instead of many. I like cockled and will search desperately for a chance to use it. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 2:18

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