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[pen-muh n] /ˈpɛn mən/
noun, plural penmen.
a person who writes or copies; scribe; copyist.
an expert in penmanship.
a writer or author.
Origin of penman
First recorded in 1585-95; pen1 + -man Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for penman
Historical Examples
  • Captain penman was a man of few words, and these few he did not waste.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
  • Captain penman looked at the girl beside him, and was sorry for her disappointment.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
  • In a word, he was transformed from the penman into the captain and man-at-arms.

    Voltaire John Morley
  • Dickinson has aptly been called the “penman of the Revolution.”

  • Well, I often wish I were a penman; but I never could do it.

    Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
  • The printing-press did not abolish the penman, but it certainly spoiled his trade.

    Illuminated Manuscripts John W. Bradley
  • This penman will have his inevitable natural slant to his letters.

    Disputed Handwriting

    Jerome B. Lavay
  • This penman was frankly proud of his melons, their early growth and flavor.

    James Fenimore Cooper Mary E. Phillips
  • To this he objected, that experience had shown him unfit for the life of a penman.

    Arthur Mervyn Charles Brockden Brown
  • Some time after this, Mr. penman became the minister, and was ordained February 3rd, 1836.

British Dictionary definitions for penman


noun (pl) -men
a person skilled in handwriting
a person who writes by hand in a specified way: a bad penman
an author
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for penman

1610s, "copyist, clerk, scrivener" (obsolete), from pen (n.1) + man (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for penman



  1. A journalist
  2. A forger (1965+ Underworld)
  3. A student who signs his or her parents' names to made-up excuses (1950s+ Teenagers)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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