What does pen mean?

Definitions for pen

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word pen.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. pennoun

    a writing implement with a point from which ink flows

  2. pennoun

    an enclosure for confining livestock

  3. playpen, pennoun

    a portable enclosure in which babies may be left to play

  4. penitentiary, pennoun

    a correctional institution for those convicted of major crimes

  5. penverb

    female swan

  6. write, compose, pen, inditeverb

    produce a literary work

    "She composed a poem"; "He wrote four novels"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Pennoun

    Etymology: penna, Latin.

    Never durst poet touch a pen to write,
    Until his ink were temper’d with love’s sighs. William Shakespeare.

    Eternal deities!
    Who write whatever time shall bring to pass,
    With pens of Adamant on plates of brass. Dryden.

    He takes the papers, lays them down again;
    And, with unwilling fingers, tries the pen. Dryden.

    I can, by designing the letters, tell what new idea it shall exhibit the next moment, barely by drawing my pen over it, which will neither appear, if my hands stand still; or though I move my pen, if my eyes be shut. John Locke.

    The pens that did his pinnions bind,
    Were like main-yards with flying canvas lin’d. Fairy Queen.

    Feather’d soon and fledg’d,
    They summ’d their pens; and soaring th’ air sublime,
    With clang despis’d the ground. John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    My father stole two geese out of a pen. William Shakespeare.

    The cook was ordered to dress capons for supper, and take the best in the pen. Roger L'Estrange.

    She in pens his flocks will fold. John Dryden, Horace.

    Ducks in thy ponds, and chickens in thy pens,
    And be thy turkeys num’rous as thy hens. King.

    The gather’d flocks
    Are in the wattled pen innumerous press’d,
    Head above head. James Thomson, Summer.

  2. To Penverb

    Etymology: pennan and pindan , Saxon.

    Away with her,
    And pen her up. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    My heavy son
    Private in his chamber pens himself. William Shakespeare.

    The plaister alone would pen the humour already contained in the part, and forbid new humour. Francis Bacon.

    As when a prowling wolf,
    Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
    Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve In hurdled cotes, amid the field secure
    Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold. John Milton.

    The glass, wherein it is penned up, hinders it to deliver itself by an expansion of its parts. Boyle.

    The prevention of mischief is prescribed by the Jewish custom; they pen up their daughters, and permit them to be acquainted with none. Gideon Harvey, on Consumptions.

    Ah! that your bus’ness had been mine,
    To pen the sheep. Dryden.

    For prey these shepherds two he took,
    Whose metal stiff he knew he could not bend
    With hearsay pictures, or a window look,
    With one good dance or letter finely penn’d. Philip Sidney.

    I would be loth to cast away my speech; for, besides that it is excellently well penn’d, I have taken great pains to con it. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

    Read this challenge, mark but the penning of it. William Shakespeare.

    A sentence spoken by him in English, and penned out of his mouth by four good secretaries, for trial of our orthography, was set down by them. William Camden, Remains.

    He frequented sermons, and penned notes with his own hand. John Hayward, on Edward VI.

    The digesting my thoughts into order, and the setting them down in writing was necessary; for without such strict examination, as the penning them affords, they would have been disjointed and roving ones. Kenelm Digby, on the Soul.

    Almost condemn’d, he mov’d the judges thus:
    Hear, but instead of me, my Oedipus;
    The judges hearing with applause, at th’ end
    Freed him, and said, no fool such lines had penn’d. John Denham.

    Gentlemen should extempore, or after a little meditation, speak to some subject without penning of any thing. John Locke.

    Should I publish the praises that are so well penn’d, they would do honour to the persons who write them. Addison.

    Twenty fools I never saw
    Come with petitions fairly penn’d,
    Desiring I should stand their friend. Jonathan Swift.


  1. pen

    A pen is a writing instrument used to apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for purposes such as writing or drawing. It typically consists of a metal nib or ball, enclosed in a barrel, fitted with a reservoir that stores the ink. Pens come in various types, including ballpoint, fountain, and felt-tip pens.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Pennoun

    a feather

  2. Pennoun

    a wing

  3. Pennoun

    an instrument used for writing with ink, formerly made of a reed, or of the quill of a goose or other bird, but now also of other materials, as of steel, gold, etc. Also, originally, a stylus or other instrument for scratching or graving

  4. Pennoun

    fig.: A writer, or his style; as, he has a sharp pen

  5. Pennoun

    the internal shell of a squid

  6. Pennoun

    a female swan

  7. Penverb

    to write; to compose and commit to paper; to indite; to compose; as, to pen a sonnet

  8. Pen

    to shut up, as in a pen or cage; to confine in a small inclosure or narrow space; to coop up, or shut in; to inclose

  9. Pennoun

    a small inclosure; as, a pen for sheep or for pigs

  10. Etymology: [OE. pennen, AS. pennan in on-pennan to unfasten, prob. from the same source as pin, and orig. meaning, to fasten with a peg.See Pin, n. & v.]


  1. Pen

    A pen is a writing implement used to apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for writing or drawing. Historically, reed pens, quill pens, and dip pens were used, with a nib dipped in the ink. Ruling pens allow precise adjustment of line width, and still find a few specialized uses, but technical pens such as the Rapidograph are more commonly used. Modern types also include ballpoint, rollerball, fountain, and felt or ceramic tip pens.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Pen

    pen, v.t. to shut up: to confine in a small enclosure:—pr.p. pen′ning; pa.t. and pa.p. penned or pent.—n. a small enclosure: a fold for animals: a coop. [A.S. pennan, to shut up, in comp. on pennan, to unpen. Prop. to fasten with a pin.]

  2. Pen

    pen, n. one of the large feathers of the wing of a bird: an instrument used for writing, formerly made of the feather of a bird, but now of steel, &c.: style of writing: a female swan—opp. to Cob.—v.t. to write, to commit to paper:—pr.p. pen′ning; pa.t. and pa.p. penned.—adj. Pen′-and-ink′, written, literary: executed with pen and ink, as a drawing.—ns. Pen′-case, a holder for a pen or pens; Pen′craft, skill in penmanship: the art of composition; Pen′-driv′er, a clerk; Pen′ful, what one can write with one dip of ink; Pen′-hold′er, a holder for pens or nibs; Pen′-wī′per, a piece of cloth, leather, &c. for wiping pens after use; Pen′-wom′an, a female writer. [O. Fr. penne—L. penna, a feather.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. pen

    A cape or conical summit. Also, the Creole name for houses and plantations in the country. Also, an inclosure for fishing on the coast.

Rap Dictionary

  1. pennoun

    Penitentiary, jail. "To all of my peoples in the pens, keep ya head up" -- Lost Boyz (Lex Coupes, Beamaz and Benz's).

Editors Contribution

  1. pen

    A type of product created and designed in various colors, materials, mechanisms, shapes, sizes and styles.

    We allnuse a pen every day.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 6, 2016  

Suggested Resources

  1. PEN

    What does PEN stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the PEN acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. PEN

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pen is ranked #18971 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Pen surname appeared 1,438 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Pen.

    80.4% or 1,157 total occurrences were Asian.
    12.4% or 179 total occurrences were White.
    2.9% or 43 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2% or 30 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    2% or 29 total occurrences were Black.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pen' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1806

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pen' in Nouns Frequency: #1583

How to pronounce pen?

How to say pen in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of pen in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of pen in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of pen in a Sentence

  1. Horace Walpole:

    Every drop of ink in my pen ran cold.

  2. Salman Rushdie:

    The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades ... who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don't know what else.

  3. Jessica Hinds:

    A win for Le Pen would need to be followed by a strong showing for her party in June's legislative elections if she is to implement most of her program.

  4. Ben Cardin:

    We need to know where children are being held, what is happening there at the border, what the policy of the country is -- United States is the United States, once again, I underscore that if The President created this crisis, The President can end it with a stroke of the pen.

  5. Jooney Woodward:

    It's just the way (Wendy) had gone through the effort of decorating the pen (with Union Jacks) where the cows were being kept, there's also a sign behind (her) ... and there's a picture of a gentleman with a cow, who is actually her husband who had died a few years ago. ... I just thought that was nice, something quite sentimental about that.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for pen

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    an attendant who carries the golf clubs for a player
    A caddie
    B excogitate
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