See also: Quill
From late Middle English quil, which is first attested in the early 15th century with the meanings "fragment of reed" and "shaft of a feather", probably from Low German and Middle Low German quiele, possibly ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *gʷelH- (“to pierce, stick”).
Compare Middle High German kil (“large feather, quill”), which is derived from the Low German term.
quill (plural quills)
- The lower shaft of a feather, specifically the region lacking barbs.
- Synonym: calamus
- A pen made from a feather.
- Synonyms: feather pen, quill pen
- 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VII, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. […], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, […], published 1842, →OCLC, page 77:
- The note was written in a delicate hand with a crow-quill, on primrose-coloured paper, with a lilac seal—the motto "tout à vous;" and the whole with just a faint perfume of jasmine.
- (by extension) Any pen.
- He picked up his quill and wrote a poem.
- A sharply pointed, barbed, and easily detached needle-like structure that grows on the skin of a porcupine or hedgehog as a defense against predators. [from early 17th c.]
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene v], page 257, column 2:
- I could a Tale vnfold, vvhoſe lighteſt vvord / VVould harrovv vp thy ſoule, freeze thy young blood, / Make thy tvvo eyes like Starres, ſtart from their Spheres, / Thy knotty and combined locks to part, / And each particular haire to ſtand an end, / Like Quilles vpon the fretfull Porpentine: […]
- A thin piece of bark, especially of cinnamon or cinchona, curled up into a tube.
- The pen of a squid.
- (music) The plectrum with which musicians strike the strings of certain instruments.
- (music) The tube of a musical instrument.
- 1637, John Milton, “Lycidas”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton, […], London: […] Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Mosely, […], published 1646, →OCLC:
- He touched the tender stops of various quills.
- Something having the form of a quill, such as the fold or plain of a ruff, or (weaving) a spindle, or spool, upon which the thread for the woof is wound in a shuttle.
- 1990, Stephen King, The Moving Finger:
- His hair still stood up in punk-rock quills and spikes.
lower shaft of a feather
pen made of feather
needle-like structure that grows on the skin
thin piece of bark, curled into a roll
pen of a squid
music: plectrum — see plectrum
quill (third-person singular simple present quills, present participle quilling, simple past and past participle quilled)
- To pierce or be pierced with quills.
- 1966, David Francis Costello, The World of the Porcupine, J. B. Lippincott & Company, page 66:
- Coyotes, bears, and mountain lions which occasionally kill porcupines are sometimes quilled.
- 2010, Mark Parman, A Grouse Hunter's Almanac: The Other Kind of Hunting, University of Wisconsin Press, →ISBN, page 49:
- Then one of my dogs got quilled, and it happened again a month later. After putting the dog in a headlock, yanking out several dozen quills, and spurting blood all over myself and the decking of the back porch, I at least understood his antiporcupine venom.
- (figuratively) To write.
- 1939 May 4, James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, London: Faber and Faber Limited, →OCLC; republished London: Faber & Faber Limited, 1960, →OCLC, part I, page 182:
- Nibs never would have quilled a seriph to sheepskin.
- 1976, Ed Sanders, Investigative Poetry, City Lights, published 1976, page 11:
- One has only to recall that Coleridge and Wordsworth one day were lounging by the sea shore, while nearby sat an English police agent on snitch patrol prepared to rush to headquarters to quill a report about the conversation.
- To form fabric into small, rounded folds.
- To decorate with quillwork.
- 2007, David J. Wishart, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains Indians, University of Nebraska Press, published 2007, →ISBN, page 32:
- Another characteristic of Plains Indians was the fairly strict division between art made and used by men and art made and used by women. Although men and women sometimes cooperated, women usually painted or quilled very balanced, controlled geometric designs on dresses, moccasins, robes, bags, and containers.
- (US and Canada, especially Appalachia and the Prairies, transitive) To subject (a woman who is giving birth) to the practice of quilling (blowing pepper into her nose to induce or hasten labor).
- For quotations using this term, see Citations:quill.
to pierce with quills
- ^ Pokorny, Julius (1959) Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Indo-European Etymological Dictionary] (in German), volume 3, Bern, München: Francke Verlag, page 1296
From Old Irish cuil (“fly; flea, gnat”).
quill f (genitive singular quill, plural quillyn)
|Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every|
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.
- G. Toner, M. Ní Mhaonaigh, S. Arbuthnot, D. Wodtko, M.-L. Theuerkauf, editors (2019), “1 cuil”, in eDIL: Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language