• synonyms


[sten-suh l]
  1. a device for applying a pattern, design, words, etc., to a surface, consisting of a thin sheet of cardboard, metal, or other material from which figures or letters have been cut out, a coloring substance, ink, etc., being rubbed, brushed, or pressed over the sheet, passing through the perforations and onto the surface.
  2. the letters, designs, etc., produced on a surface by this method.
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verb (used with object), sten·ciled, sten·cil·ing or (especially British) sten·cilled, sten·cil·ling.
  1. to mark or paint (a surface) by means of a stencil.
  2. to produce (letters, figures, designs, etc.) by means of a stencil.
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Origin of stencil

1375–1425; earlier stanesile, late Middle English stansele to ornament with diverse colors or spangles < Middle French estanceler, derivative of estencele a spark, ornamental spangle < Vulgar Latin *stincilla, metathetic variant of Latin scintilla scintilla
Related formssten·cil·er; especially British, sten·cil·ler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stencilled

Historical Examples of stencilled

  • They knew that athwart the Khalifa's writ was stencilled "Made in Germany."

    The New World of Islam

    Lothrop Stoddard

  • It was oval in shape, and had a stencilled rim in a conventional design.

    Polly's Business Venture

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy

  • A design is then stencilled on the four strips in lilac and green.

  • The place she came from is stencilled on the boiler, and the foreman examines her.

    From Sea to Sea

    Rudyard Kipling

  • When it was dear, many walls were stencilled or daubed over with a rude pattern.

    Knowledge is Power:

    Charles Knight

British Dictionary definitions for stencilled


  1. a device for applying a design, characters, etc, to a surface, consisting of a thin sheet of plastic, metal, cardboard, etc in which the design or characters have been cut so that ink or paint can be applied through the incisions onto the surface
  2. a decoration, design, or characters produced in this way
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verb -cils, -cilling or -cilled or US -cils, -ciling or -ciled (tr)
  1. to mark (a surface) with a stencil
  2. to produce (characters or a design) with a stencil
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Derived Formsstenciller, noun

Word Origin for stencil

C14 stanselen to decorate with bright colours, from Old French estenceler, from estencele a spark, from Latin scintilla
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 stencilled



1707, not recorded again until 1848, probably from Middle English stencellen "decorate with bright colors," from Middle French estenceler "cover with sparkles or stars, powder with color," from estencele "spark, spangle," from Vulgar Latin *stincilla, metathesis of Latin scintilla "spark."

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"to produce a design with a stencil," 1861, from stencil (n.). Related: Stenciled; stenciling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper