GNU Webster's 1913
- v. to write (a tentative appoinment) on an appointment calendar, so as to reserve time, but to allow the appointment to be readily canceled and replaced with another; -- also used figuratively, with other means of recording appointments. The notion being that something written in pencil can be more easily changed than something written in ink. The phrase is commonly used in the early stages of organizing a meeting of multiple persons, before it is known whether all attendees will be free at the suggested time.
“It was Mullah Faizullah who had held her hand, guided the pencil in it along the rise of each alef, the curve of each beh, the three dots of each seh.”
“La sakes, now, does it?" said Uncle Tom, looking with a respectful, admiring air, as his young teacher flourishingly scrawled q's and g's innumerable for his edification; and then, taking the pencil in his big, heavy fingers, he patiently recommenced.”
“She studied graphs indicating the stages of the powered descent, and pencil in hand she checked off landmarks—Dry Gulch, Apollo Ridge, Twin Peaks better known as Mount Marilyn—as radio communications made clear that Eagle was passing over them.”
“Did you return to Saint-Aubin the following morning?" asked Maigret, with a pencil in his hand.”
“Cain't hol 'de pencil in mah big black fingers, nohow!”
“But James Carlton always carried the stub of a pencil in his sock, beause he knew how important it was to have a writing implement.”
“Replacing his manuscript and pencil in the cigar-box, he carefully buried the box in the sawdust, put the lantern and oil-can back in the soap-box, adjusted the elevator for the reception of Duke, and, in no uncertain tone, invited the devoted animal to enter.”
“I want you to get where you can see all that is going on, and, with paper and pencil in hand, write it down, so we may not have so much labor and so many conflicitng statements, and then write up the Report at once after the battle.”
“The business in which the Paying Teller was now engaged was the writing of his journal, and his wife held a pencil in her kidded fingers and a little blank-book on her knees.”
“There sits the author of "Waverley," with a book and pencil in hand, taking notes.”
Looking for tweets for pencil in.