- a slender tube of wood, metal, plastic, etc., containing a core or strip of graphite, a solid coloring material, or the like, used for writing or drawing.
- a stick of cosmetic coloring material for use on the eyebrows, eyelids, etc.
- anything shaped or used like a pencil, as a stick of medicated material: a styptic pencil.
- a narrow set of lines, light rays, or the like, diverging from or converging to a point: a pencil of sunlight.
- a slender, pointed piece of a substance used for marking.
- style or skill in drawing or delineation: He favored the late products of the artist’s pencil.
- Mathematics. the collection of lines, planes, or surfaces passing through a given point or set of points and satisfying a given equation or condition.
- Archaic. an artist’s paintbrush, especially for fine work.
verb (used with object), pen·ciled, pen·cil·ing or (especially British) pen·cilled, pen·cil·ling.
- to write, draw, mark, or color with, or as if with, a pencil.
- to use a pencil on.
- pencil in, to schedule or list tentatively, as or as if by writing down in pencil rather than in ink: I’ll pencil you in for ten o’clock.
- a thin cylindrical instrument used for writing, drawing, etc, consisting of a rod of graphite or other marking substance, usually either encased in wood and sharpened or held in a mechanical metal device
- (as modifier)a pencil drawing
- something similar in shape or functiona styptic pencil; an eyebrow pencil
- a narrow set of lines or rays, such as light rays, diverging from or converging to a point
- archaic an artist’s fine paintbrush
- rare an artist’s individual style or technique in drawing
verb -cils, -cilling or -cilled or US -cils, -ciling or -ciled (tr)
- to draw, colour, or write with a pencil
- to mark with a pencil
- pencil in to note, arrange, include, etc provisionally or tentatively
n.early 14c., “an artist’s fine brush of camel hair,” from Old French pincel “artist’s paintbrush” (13c., Modern French pinceau), from Latin penicillus “painter’s brush, hair-pencil,” literally “little tail,” diminutive of peniculus “brush,” itself a diminutive of penis “tail” (see penis). Small brushes formerly were used for writing before modern lead or chalk pencils; meaning “graphite writing implement” apparently evolved late 16c. Derogatory slang pencil-pusher “office worker” is from 1881; pencil neck “weak person” first recorded 1973. v.1530s, “to mark or sketch with a pencil-brush,” from pencil (n.). In reference to lead pencils from 1760s. Related: Penciled; penciling. To pencil (something) in “arrange tentatively” is attested from 1942. see put lead in one’s pencil.