from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A narrow, generally cylindrical implement for writing, drawing, or marking, consisting of a thin rod of graphite, colored wax, or similar substance encased in wood or held in a mechanical holder.
  • n. Something shaped or used like a pencil, especially a narrow medicated or cosmetic stick: an eyebrow pencil.
  • n. A style or technique in drawing or delineating.
  • n. Descriptive skill: "His characters are drawn with a strong pencil” ( Henry Hallam).
  • n. An artist's brush, especially a fine one.
  • n. Physics A beam of radiant energy in the form of a narrow cone or cylinder.
  • n. Mathematics A family of geometric objects, such as lines, that have a common property, such as passage through a given line in a given plane.
  • transitive v. To write or produce by using a pencil.
  • transitive v. To mark or color with or as if with a pencil.
  • pencil in To schedule tentatively: penciled in a staff meeting for 3:00.
  • pencil in To schedule a tentative appointment with: penciled him in for lunch next Monday.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A paintbrush.
  • n. Writing utensil that uses graphite (commonly referred to as lead). Regular pencils usually have a graphite shaft surrounded by wood. Also available in a mechanical version where the graphite length can be adjusted and sharpening is not needed.
  • n. 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.
  • v. to write something using a pencil
  • v. To tentatively make a booking or appointment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small, fine brush of hair or bristles used by painters for laying on colors.
  • n. A slender cylinder or strip of black lead, graphite, colored chalk, slate etc., or such a cylinder or strip inserted in a small wooden rod intended to be pointed, or in a case, which forms a handle, -- used for drawing or writing. See Graphite.
  • n. Hence, figuratively, an artist's ability or peculiar manner; also, in general, the act or occupation of the artist, descriptive writer, etc.
  • n. An aggregate or collection of rays of light, especially when diverging from, or converging to, a point.
  • n. A number of lines that intersect in one point, the point of intersection being called the pencil point.
  • n. A small medicated bougie.
  • transitive v. To write or mark with a pencil; to paint or to draw.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To paint or draw; execute with a pencil or in pencil; mark with penciling or as with a pencil: as, finely penciled eyebrows.
  • To write with a pencil.
  • In medicine, to apply a remedy to (an inflamed spot, etc.) with a fine brush: as, to pencil a wound with lunar caustic.
  • n. A small fine brush, such as may be used by a painter in laying on paints; technically, a special type of pointed brush the hairs of which are held by a quill ferrule with a wooden handle which is often detachable.
  • n. Figuratively, the art of painting; also, skill in painting or delineation; style of delineation.
  • n. An instrument for marking, drawing, or writing, formed of graphite, colored chalk, or a material of similar properties, and having a tapering end; specifically, a thin strip of such substance in closed in a cylinder of soft wood or in a metal case with a tapering end.
  • n. Writing done with a pencil, as distinguished from that done with ink: as, a note written in pencil.
  • n. In optics, all the rays of light which diverge from or converge to a given point.
  • n. In geometry, the figure formed by a number of lines which meet in one point.
  • n. In zoology, a tuft or little brush, as of hair or feathers. Also called penicillium.
  • n. See the adjectives.
  • n. See pencel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. graphite (or a similar substance) used in such a way as to be a medium of communication
  • n. a figure formed by a set of straight lines or light rays meeting at a point
  • n. a cosmetic in a long thin stick; designed to be applied to a particular part of the face
  • n. a thin cylindrical pointed writing implement; a rod of marking substance encased in wood
  • v. write, draw, or trace with a pencil


Middle English pencel, artist's brush, from Old French pincel, peincel, from Vulgar Latin *pēnicellus, alteration of Latin pēnicillus, diminutive of pēniculus, diminutive of pēnis, tail, brush; see pes- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman and Old French pincil (modern pinceau ("paintbrush")), from Latin diminutive peniculus ("brush"), from noun penis ("tail") + diminutive suffix -culus. (Wiktionary)



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  • "6. Physics A beam of radiant energy in the form of a narrow cone or cylinder.

    7. Mathematics A family of geometric objects, such as lines, that have a common property, such as passage through a given line in a given plane."

    - American Heritage Dictionary

    August 18, 2010

  • A booking for a day's work that is not yet confirmed.

    July 4, 2008