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penknife

[ pen-nahyf ]
/ ˈpɛnˌnaɪf /
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SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR penknife ON THESAURUS.COM

noun, plural pen·knives.

a small pocketknife, formerly one used for making and sharpening quill pens.

RELATED WORDS

pocketknife, switchblade

Nearby words

penitential psalms, penitentiary, penitently, penitis, penki, penknife, penlight, penman, penmanship, penn, penn hills

Origin of penknife

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at pen1, knife
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for penknife

British Dictionary definitions for penknife

penknife

/ (ˈpɛnˌnaɪf) /

noun plural -knives

a small knife with one or more blades that fold into the handle; pocketknife

Word Origin for penknife

C15: so called because it was originally used for making and repairing quill pens
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 penknife

penknife


n.

early 15c., from pen (n.1) + knife (n.). So called because such small knives were used to sharpen quills.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper