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pencil

[pen-suh l]
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noun
  1. a slender tube of wood, metal, plastic, etc., containing a core or strip of graphite, a solid coloring material, or the like, used for writing or drawing.
  2. a stick of cosmetic coloring material for use on the eyebrows, eyelids, etc.
  3. anything shaped or used like a pencil, as a stick of medicated material: a styptic pencil.
  4. a narrow set of lines, light rays, or the like, diverging from or converging to a point: a pencil of sunlight.
  5. a slender, pointed piece of a substance used for marking.
  6. style or skill in drawing or delineation: He favored the late products of the artist's pencil.
  7. Mathematics. the collection of lines, planes, or surfaces passing through a given point or set of points and satisfying a given equation or condition.
  8. Archaic. an artist's paintbrush, especially for fine work.
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verb (used with object), pen·ciled, pen·cil·ing or (especially British) pen·cilled, pen·cil·ling.
  1. to write, draw, mark, or color with, or as if with, a pencil.
  2. to use a pencil on.
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Verb Phrases
  1. pencil in, to schedule or list tentatively, as or as if by writing down in pencil rather than in ink: I'll pencil you in for ten o'clock.
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Origin of pencil

1350–1400; Middle English pencel < Middle French pincelLatin pēnicillus painter's brush or pencil, diminutive of pēniculus little tail. See penis, -cule1
Related formspen·cil·er; especially British, pen·cil·ler, nounpen·cil·like, adjectiveun·pen·ciled, adjectiveun·pen·cilled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pencil

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "This is my address," said the merchant, writing it in pencil, and handing it to Robert.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • With these words, he handed the pencil to the professor and returned to his seat.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • He read with pencil in hand, and he had an elaborate system of marking a book.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • In this instance, his drawings throughout are in pencil, and he is his own topographer.

  • She drew it in pencil on an envelope on her way back in the street car.

    K

    Mary Roberts Rinehart


British Dictionary definitions for pencil

pencil

noun
    1. a thin cylindrical instrument used for writing, drawing, etc, consisting of a rod of graphite or other marking substance, usually either encased in wood and sharpened or held in a mechanical metal device
    2. (as modifier)a pencil drawing
  1. something similar in shape or functiona styptic pencil; an eyebrow pencil
  2. a narrow set of lines or rays, such as light rays, diverging from or converging to a point
  3. archaic an artist's fine paintbrush
  4. rare an artist's individual style or technique in drawing
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verb -cils, -cilling or -cilled or US -cils, -ciling or -ciled (tr)
  1. to draw, colour, or write with a pencil
  2. to mark with a pencil
  3. pencil in to note, arrange, include, etc provisionally or tentatively
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Derived Formspenciller or US penciler, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French pincel, from Latin pēnicillus painter's brush, from pēniculus a little tail, from pēnis tail
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

Word Origin and History for pencil

n.

early 14c., "an artist's fine brush of camel hair," from Old French pincel "artist's paintbrush" (13c., Modern French pinceau), from Latin penicillus "painter's brush, hair-pencil," literally "little tail," diminutive of peniculus "brush," itself a diminutive of penis "tail" (see penis). Small brushes formerly were used for writing before modern lead or chalk pencils; meaning "graphite writing implement" apparently evolved late 16c. Derogatory slang pencil-pusher "office worker" is from 1881; pencil neck "weak person" first recorded 1973.

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v.

1530s, "to mark or sketch with a pencil-brush," from pencil (n.). In reference to lead pencils from 1760s. Related: Penciled; penciling. To pencil (something) in "arrange tentatively" is attested from 1942.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pencil

pencil

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.