While reading this article, I was struck when one of the "sources" are quoted as saying

There is never more than a fag paper between them

I have always understood "fags" to either refer to cigarettes or homosexuals, but what does it mean in this context?

  • 7
    What makes more sense to you there? A homosexual paper or a cigarette paper?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 19:17
  • @Robusto even if I use the definition which makes more sense to me, I've never heard of the concept of cigarette paper coming in between people Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 19:18
  • 3
    from the days when smokers used to roll up their own ciggies, see image. The cigarette paper is extremely thin, the analogy fits. Corbyn seems like the type of guy who would roll his own cigarettes. I don't know if he is a smoker, he looks like one though.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 19:22
  • 2
    The important factor is that cigarette paper is thin. The implication is that they were close/inseperable. Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 19:22
  • I'll also note that fag meaning homosexual has never been common in the UK, whereas fag meaning cigarette has.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


It means "cigarette paper". It is in Cassell's dictionary of slang, 2nd edition by Jonathon Green. The thickness of a cigarette paper is not a very large distance so the quoted sentence means they are always close. It's a metaphor.

Urban Dictionary provides a example of similar usage

"four foot and a fag paper" which is supposedly

Scottish slang to describe someone who is very short.

  • Fag papers are approximately one-thousandth of an inch thick, and are widely used by engineers for measuring or setting up very small distances between things. There's a discussion of different makes and grades here: model-engineer.co.uk/forums/postings.asp?th=166563 Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 14:06

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