verb (used with object)

Origin of quill

1375–1425; late Middle English quil; compare Low German quiele, German Kiel
Related formsquill-like, adjective
Can be confusedquail quell quill
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for quill

plumage, plume, calamus, down, pinion, shaft

Examples from the Web for quill

Contemporary Examples of quill

Historical Examples of quill

British Dictionary definitions for quill



  1. any of the large stiff feathers of the wing or tail of a bird
  2. the long hollow central part of a bird's feather; calamus
a bird's feather made into a pen for writing
any of the stiff hollow spines of a porcupine or hedgehog
a device, formerly usually made from a crow quill, for plucking a harpsichord string
angling a length of feather barb stripped of barbules and used for the body of some artificial flies
a small roll of bark, esp one of dried cinnamon
(in weaving) a bobbin or spindle
a fluted fold, as in a ruff
a hollow shaft that rotates upon an inner spindle or concentrically about an internal shaft

verb (tr)

to wind (thread, yarn, etc) onto a spool or bobbin
to make or press fluted folds in (a ruff)

Word Origin for quill

C15 (in the sense: hollow reed or pipe): of uncertain origin; compare Middle Low German quiele quill
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 quill

c.1400, "piece of reed or hollow stem of a feather," probably related to Middle High German kil "quill," from Low German quiele, of unknown origin. Meaning "pen made from a (goose) quill" is from 1550s; that of "porcupine spine" is from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

quill in Science



The hollow shaft of a feather, the bottom of which attaches to the bird's skin.
One of the sharp hollow spines of a porcupine or hedgehog.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.