What does pencil mean?

Definitions for pencil
ˈpɛn səlpen·cil

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. pencilnoun

    a thin cylindrical pointed writing implement; a rod of marking substance encased in wood

  2. pencilnoun

    graphite (or a similar substance) used in such a way as to be a medium of communication

    "the words were scribbled in pencil"; "this artist's favorite medium is pencil"

  3. pencilnoun

    a figure formed by a set of straight lines or light rays meeting at a point

  4. pencilverb

    a cosmetic in a long thin stick; designed to be applied to a particular part of the face

    "an eyebrow pencil"

  5. pencilverb

    write, draw, or trace with a pencil

    "he penciled a figure"


  1. pencilnoun

    A paintbrush.

  2. pencilnoun

    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.

  3. pencilnoun

    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. pencilverb

    to write something using a pencil

    I penciled (BrEn: pencilled) it in my notebook.

  5. pencilverb

    To tentatively make a booking or appointment.

    I am very busy today but I can pencil you in at 3 p.m.

  6. Etymology: From and pincil (modern pinceau), from diminutive peniculus, from noun penis + diminutive suffix -culus.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Pencilnoun

    Etymology: penicillum, Latin.

    Pencils can by one slight touch restore
    Smiles to that changed face, that wept before. Dryden.

    For thee the groves green liv’ries wear,
    For thee the graces lead the dancing hours,
    And nature’s ready pencil paints the flow’rs. Dryden.

    A sort of pictures there is, wherein the colours, as laid by the pencil on the table, mark out very odd figures. John Locke.

    The faithful pencil has design’d
    Some bright idea of the master’s mind,
    Where a new world leaps out at his command,
    And ready nature waits upon his hand. Alexander Pope.

    One dips the pencil, t’ other strings the lyre. Alexander Pope.

    Mark with a pen or pencil the most considerable things in the books you desire to remember. Isaac Watts.

  2. To Pencilverb

    To paint.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Painting is almost the natural man;
    For since dishonour trafficks with man’s nature,
    He is but outside: pencil’d figures are
    Ev’n such as they give out. William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens.


  1. Pencil

    A pencil ( (listen)) is a writing or drawing implement with a solid pigment core in a protective casing that reduces the risk of core breakage, and keeps it from marking the user's hand. Pencils create marks by physical abrasion, leaving a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or other surface. They are distinct from pens, which dispense liquid or gel ink onto the marked surface. Most pencil cores are made of graphite powder mixed with a clay binder. Graphite pencils (traditionally known as "lead pencils") produce grey or black marks that are easily erased, but otherwise resistant to moisture, most chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and natural aging. Other types of pencil cores, such as those of charcoal, are mainly used for drawing and sketching. Coloured pencils are sometimes used by teachers or editors to correct submitted texts, but are typically regarded as art supplies, especially those with cores made from wax-based binders that tend to smear when erasers are applied to them. Grease pencils have a softer, oily core that can leave marks on smooth surfaces such as glass or porcelain. The most common pencil casing is thin wood, usually hexagonal in section but sometimes cylindrical or triangular, permanently bonded to the core. Casings may be of other materials, such as plastic or paper. To use the pencil, the casing must be carved or peeled off to expose the working end of the core as a sharp point. Mechanical pencils have more elaborate casings which are not bonded to the core; instead, they support separate, mobile pigment cores that can be extended or retracted (usually through the casing's tip) as needed. These casings can be reloaded with new cores (usually graphite) as the previous ones are exhausted.


  1. pencil

    A pencil is a handheld instrument that is commonly used for writing or drawing. It typically consists of a slender, cylindrical shaft, most often made from wood, with a core of graphite, clay, or colored pigment that leaves marks on a surface when pressure is applied. The other end often has an eraser attached for removing the marks. Pencils are available in different grades and colors, and are known for their ease of use and portability.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Pencilnoun

    a small, fine brush of hair or bristles used by painters for laying on colors

  2. Pencilnoun

    a slender cylinder or strip of black lead, 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

  3. Pencilnoun

    hence, figuratively, an artist's ability or peculiar manner; also, in general, the act or occupation of the artist, descriptive writer, etc

  4. Pencilnoun

    an aggregate or collection of rays of light, especially when diverging from, or converging to, a point

  5. Pencilnoun

    a number of lines that intersect in one point, the point of intersection being called the pencil point

  6. Pencilnoun

    a small medicated bougie

  7. Pencilverb

    to write or mark with a pencil; to paint or to draw

  8. Etymology: [OF. pincel, F. pinceau, L. penicillum, penicillus, equiv. to peniculus, dim. of penis a tail. Cf. Penicil.]


  1. Pencil

    A pencil is a writing implement or art medium usually constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core inside a protective casing. The case prevents the core from breaking, and also from marking the user’s hand during use. Pencils create marks via physical abrasion, leaving behind a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or other surface. They are noticeably distinct from pens, which dispense liquid or gel ink that stain the light colour of the paper. Most pencil cores are made of graphite mixed with a clay binder, leaving grey or black marks that can be easily erased. Graphite pencils are used for both writing and drawing, and the result is durable: although writing can usually be removed with an eraser, it is resistant to moisture, most chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and natural aging. Other types of pencil core are less widely used. Charcoal pencils are mainly used by artists for drawing and sketching. Coloured pencils are sometimes used by teachers or editors to correct submitted texts but are more usually regarded as art supplies, especially those with waxy core binders that tend to smear on paper instead of erasing. Grease pencils have a softer crayon-like waxy core that can leave marks on smooth surfaces such as glass or porcelain.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Pencil

    pen′sil, n. a small hair brush for laying on colours: any pointed instrument for writing or drawing without ink: a collection of rays of light converging to a point: the art of painting or drawing.—v.t. to write, sketch, or mark with a pencil: to paint or draw:—pr.p. pen′cilling; pa.t. and pa.p. pen′cilled.ns. Pen′cil-case, a holder for a pencil; Pen′cil-com′pass, a compass having a pencil on one of its legs for use in drawing.—adjs. Pen′cilled, written or marked with a pencil: having pencils of rays: radiated: (bot.) marked with fine lines, as with a pencil; Pen′cilliform, having the form of a pencil, as of rays.—ns. Pen′cilling, the art of writing, sketching, or marking with a pencil: marks made with a pencil: fine lines on flowers or the feathers of birds: a sketch; Pen′cil-sketch, a sketch made with a pencil. [O. Fr. pincel (Fr. pinceau)—L. penicillum, a painter's brush, dim. of penis, a tail.]

Editors Contribution

  1. pencil

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

    Children love a pencil to use in the classroom.

    Submitted by MaryC on July 6, 2020  


  1. Pencil

    a little, elongated brush of hair: in Diptera, applied to a group of sensory hairs on the flagellum of the antenna.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pencil is ranked #98982 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Pencil surname appeared 183 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Pencil.

    85.7% or 157 total occurrences were White.
    10.9% or 20 total occurrences were Black.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pencil' in Written Corpus Frequency: #3117

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pencil' in Nouns Frequency: #2401

How to pronounce pencil?

How to say pencil in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of pencil in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of pencil in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of pencil in a Sentence

  1. Dwight D Eisenhower:

    Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.

  2. Dharini Mathur:

    It broke our heart to see him struggling on Zoom every day, he had to unmute when he wanted to speak, and mute when he wasn't speaking. He had to learn how to write online. How do you learn how to hold a pencil online ?

  3. Lyndon B. Johnson:

    All that Hubert needs over there is a gal to answer the phone and a pencil with an eraser on it.

  4. Unknown:

    A short pencil is better than a long memory.

  5. Eddy M Reyes:

    Well. You can start painting now. Just get a piece of paper and a pencil. And drive the pencil like you were dancing

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for pencil

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"pencil." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 18 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/pencil>.

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