pen

1
[ pen ]
See synonyms for pen on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. any of various instruments for writing or drawing with ink or a similar substance.

  2. a detachable metal penpoint, filled by dipping or with a quill; nib.

  1. such a penpoint with its penholder.

  2. the pen as the instrument of writing or authorship: The pen is mightier than the sword.

  3. a person's style or quality of writing: He writes with a witty, incisive pen.

  4. a writer: I leave this story to abler pens.

  5. the profession of writing: a master of the pen.

  6. a pen-shaped device having a cartridge filled with a drug or medication: an insulin pen with disposable needles.

  7. Computers. stylus (def. 3).

  8. Ornithology.

  9. something resembling or suggesting a feather or quill.

  10. Zoology. an internal, corneous or chitinous, feather-shaped structure in certain cephalopods, as the squid.

verb (used with object),penned, pen·ning.
  1. to write with or as with a pen; put down in writing: to pen an essay.

  2. to draw with or as with a pen: to pen a sketch.

Origin of pen

1
First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English penn(e), from Old French penne “pen, feather,” from Late Latin penna “pen,” from Latin penna, pinna “feather, wing”

Other words from pen

  • pen·like, adjective
  • pen·ner, noun

Other definitions for pen (2 of 7)

pen2
[ pen ]

noun
  1. a small enclosure for domestic animals.

  2. animals so enclosed: We have a pen of twenty sheep.

  1. an enclosure used for confinement or safekeeping: We have built several pens to hold our harvest of corn.

  2. a dock having a protective concrete structure overhead, used to service and repair submarines.

verb (used with object),penned or pent, pen·ning.
  1. to confine in or as in a pen.

Origin of pen

2
First recorded before 1000; (noun) Middle English penne, Old English penn (in compounds); perhaps akin to pin; (verb) Middle English pennen, derivative of the noun

Other definitions for pen (3 of 7)

pen3
[ pen ]

Origin of pen

3
An Americanism dating back to 1880–85; shortened form

Other definitions for pen (4 of 7)

pen4
[ pen ]

noun
  1. a female swan.

Origin of pen

4
First recorded in 1540–50; origin uncertain

Other definitions for pen- (5 of 7)

pen-

  1. variant of pene- before a vowel: penannular.

Other definitions for Pen. (6 of 7)

Pen.

abbreviation
  1. peninsula.

Other definitions for P.E.N. (7 of 7)

P.E.N.

abbreviation
  1. International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use pen in a sentence

  • The few who escaped our swords are penned up in the Residency, and its walls are now crumbling before our guns.

    The Red Year | Louis Tracy
  • Such of us as remain are like the buffalo penned in national parks—a sorry remnant of the days that were.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • Having penned these lines, Queeker heaved a deep sigh—cast one long lingering gaze on the moon, and went to bed.

  • But how explain the violent part played by the young man, who is not mentioned in these abrupt and hastily penned sentences!

    The Circular Study | Anna Katharine Green
  • Have I penned these memorials, let me ask myself, from any paltry vanity, or desire to talk about that self?

British Dictionary definitions for pen (1 of 6)

pen1

/ (pɛn) /


noun
  1. an implement for writing or drawing using ink, formerly consisting of a sharpened and split quill, and now of a metal nib attached to a holder: See also ballpoint, fountain pen

  2. the writing end of such an implement; nib

  1. style of writing

  2. the pen

    • writing as an occupation

    • the written word: the pen is mightier than the sword

  3. the long horny internal shell of a squid

verbpens, penning or penned
  1. (tr) to write or compose

Origin of pen

1
Old English pinne, from Late Latin penna (quill) pen, from Latin: feather

British Dictionary definitions for pen (2 of 6)

pen2

/ (pɛn) /


noun
  1. an enclosure in which domestic animals are kept: sheep pen

  2. any place of confinement

  1. a dock for servicing submarines, esp one having a bombproof roof

verbpens, penning, penned or pent
  1. (tr) to enclose or keep in a pen

Origin of pen

2
Old English penn, perhaps related to pin

British Dictionary definitions for pen (3 of 6)

pen3

/ (pɛn) /


noun
  1. US and Canadian informal short for penitentiary (def. 1)

British Dictionary definitions for pen (4 of 6)

pen4

/ (pɛn) /


noun
  1. a female swan

Origin of pen

4
C16: of unknown origin

British Dictionary definitions for PEN (5 of 6)

PEN

/ (pɛn) /


n acronym for
  1. International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists

British Dictionary definitions for Pen. (6 of 6)

Pen.

abbreviation for
  1. Peninsula

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with pen

pen

see slip of the lip (pen).

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