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Selection of colored pencils.

Alternative formsEdit


From Anglo-Norman and Old French pincil (see the variant pincel, which gave rise to Modern French pinceau (paintbrush)), from Latin pēnicillum, diminutive of pēniculus (brush), itself a diminutive of pēnis (tail; penis). Not related to pen.



pencil (plural pencils)

  1. A writing utensil with a graphite (commonly referred to as lead) shaft, usually blended with clay, clad in wood, and sharpened to a taper.
  2. (obsolete) A paintbrush.
  3. (geometry) A family of geometric objects with a common property, such as the set of lines that pass through a given point in a projective plane.
  4. (optics) An aggregate or collection of rays of light, especially when diverging from, or converging to, a point.
    • 1863, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal
      When, by the pencil becoming oblique to the surface, the vergency produced on the pencil becomes changed, the primary and secondary focal points, V and H, separate []
  5. (medicine, archaic) A small medicated bougie.

Derived termsEdit


  • Hindi: पेंसिल (pensil), पेन्सिल (pensil)



pencil (third-person singular simple present pencils, present participle (UK) pencilling or (US) penciling, simple past and past participle (UK) pencilled or (US) penciled)

  1. (transitive) To write (something) using a pencil.
    I penciled (BrE: pencilled) a brief reminder in my notebook.
  2. (transitive) To mark with, or as if with, a pencil.
    • 1852, The Ark, and Odd Fellows' Western Magazine
      It pencilled each flower with rich and variegated hues, and threw over its exuberant foliage a vesture of emerald green.

Derived termsEdit

Further readingEdit



pĕncil (plural pencil-pencil)

  1. to be isolated, separated

Derived termsEdit