Main definitions of pen in US English:

: pen1pen2pen3pen4PEN5

pen1

noun

  • 1An instrument for writing or drawing with ink, typically consisting of a metal nib or ball, or a nylon tip, fitted into a metal or plastic holder.

    • ‘These include a cuddly toy, a ball, pens, pencils and paper, a toothbrush and toothpaste.’
    • ‘Plastic waste could be recycled and used to make plastic pens, and plastic twine.’
    • ‘Metallic pens come in precious metal and jewel colors and add a special sparkle, especially to dark paper.’
    • ‘He uses a metal pen with a faceted diamond point on one end to etch into the datolite's surface, tracing over his original pencil drawing.’
    • ‘It's just some crazy guy with a laptop, a cellphone, a stack of blank business cards and some drawing pens.’
    • ‘His pastel drawings feel loose, reworked and found, and his pen and pencil drawings are precise and fresh.’
    • ‘These shoeboxes are made up of small gifts such as dolls, Lego models, pencils, pens, writing and drawing paper and sweets.’
    • ‘Writing was done with nibs fitted into a pen holder.’
    • ‘The desk was a little dusty in places and it housed a stationery holder containing three pens and a pencil, there were also several documents strewn across the desk.’
    • ‘My son gave me a very thoughtful gift, a brand new fountain pen and a lovely ball pen, for jotting, he said.’
    • ‘Future projects include continuing a series of line drawings using pens with increasingly finer and finer nibs.’
    • ‘She was ready to enter the world and make her mark on it with the long, sweeping strokes of a pen, that sacred instrument forbidden to women.’
    • ‘And this time, instead of taking only his pen and drawing pad, he took the TV cameras too.’
    • ‘And most of them, once they get there, will continue to feed their habit using shared smuggled equipment or crude syringes made from biro pens, an old needle and an elastic band.’
    • ‘There was a very large bed, a sturdy, metal writing desk and some pens and pencils were on top of the desk.’
    • ‘They range from toy cellphones, chocolates, biscuits and drawing pens to colourful clothes.’
    • ‘Her first class of the day was, of course, a pen & ink drawing class.’
    • ‘Can't remember the last time I took up my drawing pen, far less a brush.’
    • ‘He suddenly bent down and took out two blue ball point pens.’
    • ‘The first giveaway is a package of six ball point pens.’
    1. 1.1the pen The occupation or practice of writing.
      ‘she was forced to support herself not only by the pen, but as a secret agent’
      • ‘In more recent times, the power of the pen has taken a backseat and the new generation has become more used to the telephone.’
      • ‘For me, the ride had me weeping for joy as it does when I read it from the author's pen.’
      • ‘They all seem to be ruled by the Accountant's pen and the bottom line nowadays.’
      • ‘These advantages were defended with corresponding vehemence, and less by the pen than by action.’
      • ‘This soft-focus account might have grated coming from another pen, but it is impossible to begrudge a man who writes with such good humour and who knows only too well that he has fallen on his feet.’
      • ‘He bridles, reeling off a list of generals who have wielded the pen as deftly as the swagger stick.’
      • ‘This is when she took to the pen - mainly to supplement family income.’
      • ‘The essence of his theory is that, once the word has left the author's pen, the author has no control over its meaning.’
      • ‘Rather, every moment of life requires a new stroke of the author's pen.’
      • ‘For an occasion like the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Mann, the publisher himself, takes up the pen.’
      • ‘Some successful tenders have simply repeated the words of the customer's tender specification as though they had come from the pen of the researcher.’
      • ‘The author behind the creativity, the master of the pen, with that first press of ink on paper the original creation of a work is born.’
      • ‘It is expected that another publication will be coming from the pen of the author in the next few months.’
    2. 1.2 An electronic device like a pen, used in conjunction with a writing surface to enter commands or data into a computer.
      • ‘A touch tablet is operated by a pen and functions as an input device.’
      • ‘The electronic pen, like an ordinary pen, writes on paper but also digitally records information that is written down.’
      • ‘You can also use a digital pen to select, drag and double click objects on the screen.’
      • ‘This was a company that wanted to produce the first handheld computer that would be entirely operated by a pen device.’
      • ‘Equipment that is rarely cleaned, such as pens, charts and computer keyboards, may also be a source of contamination.’
      • ‘You get the unit itself, a carrying sleeve, a power cord, an AC adapter, desktop stand, digital pen and a docking cable.’
      • ‘The pen for writing and telephoning is kept in the side of the bracket and features a built-in microphone and speaker.’
      • ‘A yellow cradle for storing the digital pen is cleverly built into the upper-right corner of the keyboard.’
      • ‘Of course, the variable widths only work in conjunction with a pressure-sensitive pen and digital tablet.’
      • ‘The pen records every stroke of the pen digitally.’
      • ‘A mobile phone that had accessories including a camera, a small built-in computer and a magnetic pen, lay inside a Kakhi small bag tied to his left leg.’
      • ‘Lifting the computer pen, she began to work on the problems the desk supplied.’
      • ‘Image capture is a generic device for USB - why bother tightly binding the pen to the computer?’
      • ‘The desk contained her computer, pens and pencils, and post-it notes, reminding her to do things.’
      • ‘There are even some directly parallel devices in both ranges; for example, a wrist-watch like device for reading messages off, and a bluetooth pen.’
      • ‘His essay covers much of the history of pen computing software and hardware from ten years ago up to now.’
      • ‘When you wrote on the pad with a special pen, your scribbles appeared on the computer display.’
      • ‘Users will input data using a pen like device writing on a pressure sensitive tablet.’
      • ‘We didn't replace our desktops and notebooks with pen computers, but we added a new type of little computer to our lives.’
      • ‘Next, install the 6MB Mobile Desktop that is stored on your pen storage device.’
  • 2Zoology
    The tapering cartilaginous internal shell of a squid.

    • ‘It has no backbone, but rather a quill-like pen located beneath its mantle, or body.’
    • ‘Once inside, students cut out the squid's lungs, stomach, ink sac, and pen.’

verb

[with object]
  • Write or compose.

    ‘he had not penned a line to Lizzie in three years’
    • ‘It takes a lot more than inspiration to pen these lines.’
    • ‘So, I've just penned a note for each of the flats in the block requesting that the borrower return it.’
    • ‘Say you love rhymes and think you'd like to pen some poetry.’
    • ‘Proclaiming he wants to be a screenwriter too, Donald starts to pen the kind of formulaic thriller that runs against the very principles Charlie's work is built on.’
    • ‘He has a penchant for writing and has penned a few hundred poems.’
    • ‘Journalists love the dynasty story for the meat, colour and the opportunity to pen clever lines that it provides.’
    • ‘Of course, no one used it on him until one of our columnists wrote asking him to pen a testimonial for a new book jacket.’
    • ‘It's a stormy and wet December start as I pen these notes.’
    • ‘But as any screenplay handbook will tell you, writing for motion pictures is not about penning lines of dialogue; it is about fashioning a narrative and constructing an event.’
    • ‘And you dare not write off people who pen moaning letters to parish newsletters or local papers as cantankerous curmudgeons.’

Phrases

  • the pen is mightier than the sword

    • proverb Writing is more effective than military power or violence.

      • ‘They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and he has certainly proved the veracity of that old adage.’
      • ‘‘As the pen is mightier than the sword, it also carries the responsibility to use it wisely,’ concluded the organization's statement.’
      • ‘If the pen is mightier than the sword, then the spoken word is stronger still.’
      • ‘Maybe they have come to realise that the pen is mightier than the sword.’
      • ‘Many raised black pens to the sky, visually evoking the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword.’
      • ‘Without putting too fine a point on it, Orwell gave life to the cliché that the pen is mightier than the sword, using mere words to fight oppression and cruelty wherever he might find it.’
      • ‘As a past campaigner, I advise them that the pen is mightier than the sword.’
      • ‘Everyone says that books can change the world, that the pen is mightier than the sword.’
      • ‘I use the pen because the pen is mightier than the sword.’
      • ‘So, I apologize for the lack of graphics, but the pen is mightier than the sword.’
  • put (or set) pen to paper

    • Write or begin to write something.

      • ‘As it is exactly 40 years ago I began my working life there, I was motivated to put pen to paper.’
      • ‘Well, I delayed putting pen to paper yesterday because I wanted to calm down properly before writing anything.’
      • ‘I have always enjoyed putting pen to paper but was beginning to wonder if letter writing was a dying art.’
      • ‘Now, by saying that I mean that it sounds like whoever wrote the dialog at least watched some war movies before putting pen to paper.’
      • ‘And young people are being urged to put pen to paper to write about how the road will affect the town's future.’
      • ‘Suddenly, just as he began to put pen to paper, a deafening alarm sounded.’
      • ‘My opinions are expressed herewith, and I feel sure many other people will see fit to put pen to paper and write to you in the same vein.’
      • ‘Come on folks, put pen to paper, write to the town hall, the mayor, the leader of the council, the local paper, stand up and be counted.’
      • ‘People who just a few years ago would never have dreamed of putting pen to paper to write a letter to the editor now think nothing of turning to the keyboard and firing off an e-mail about some current event or the day's lead editorial.’
      • ‘I put pen to paper and just wrote, not caring that it was, or what relevance it had to me.’

Origin

Middle English (originally denoting a feather with a sharpened quill): from Old French penne, from Latin penna ‘feather’ (in late Latin ‘pen’).

Pronunciation

pen

/pɛn//pen/

Main definitions of pen in US English:

: pen1pen2pen3pen4PEN5

pen2

noun

  • 1A small enclosure in which sheep, pigs, cattle, or other domestic animals are kept.

    • ‘The large livestock pens make provision for 850 cattle while the small stock pens can keep 500 sheep and goat.’
    • ‘The auctioneer stepped up onto the gangway above the sheep pens, briefly registered the small crowd of burly men in padded waistcoats and tweed hats and cleared his throat.’
    • ‘Along with the original small red house, the farm now has two barns, a sheep pen, and several sheds.’
    • ‘The shepherds pound the ground with their staffs and curse the sheep as they corral them into makeshift pens.’
    • ‘Outside was a sheep pen and a weathered orange taxi.’
    • ‘Additionally, sheep pens should be constructed on well-drained soils to avoid water-logging.’
    • ‘Local sheep farmers this year put in a special effort putting down pens and selling their sheep in the traditional way.’
    • ‘Designed as a giant sheep pen for agricultural shows, the room has a slanted floor for, well, better drainage.’
    • ‘His sources range from sidewalks and commercial buildings in town to barns, machine sheds, and livestock pens on farms.’
    • ‘The trick was to move the gate into the pen scattering the sheep and then quickly bringing the gate back to only let a couple out.’
    • ‘Sheep are most commonly housed in bedded pens with a manure pack.’
    • ‘Then he moved on to sniff around the sheep where the lambing pen had been.’
    • ‘Markets usually took place in the main streets where traders erected their stalls or pens for animals or other livestock.’
    • ‘Small banked and walled enclosures are associated with some of the houses, perhaps pens for animal husbandry.’
    • ‘If wool is so important to this country, then prize sheep should not be corralled in pens too small to allow them to turn around.’
    • ‘The sheep pens are on display and all strawed up, but will remain empty for two days whilst the show goes on around.’
    • ‘He was looking out his window, from which he could see the sheep pen perfectly.’
    • ‘We've also converted pig and sheep pens into extra living space so when friends come they have their own kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.’
    • ‘Feed bunks were located within each of the free stall housing pens.’
    • ‘Indoor exhibits were carefully carried into school and the immaculately groomed sheep unloaded into pens.’
    enclosure, fold, sheepfold, pound, compound, paddock, stockade, sty, coop, cage, stall, lock-up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A number of animals in or sufficient to fill a pen.
      ‘a pen of young horses’
      • ‘Mr. Kidd also paid the second highest price E124 for a pen of ten lambs.’
      • ‘In one scene she doubles for the actress when she parachutes into a pen of pigs.’
      • ‘A pen of five lambs, averaging 50 kg was sold for €84.’
      • ‘A record price on a pen of three ewe lambs was set at $260 per head.’
      • ‘Depends on the draw of sheep too, if you get a good pen of sheep, makes a difference.’
      • ‘Research teams were then randomly assigned to a pen of birds.’
      • ‘Working-class immigrants, imbued with the dream of three acres and a cow, settled for a quarter-acre suburban block and a pen of chooks.’
      • ‘One of the horses was rescued from a pen of horses bound for slaughter at the New Holland Sales in Pennsylvania.’
      • ‘Best price of the day went to the man from Lockton for a pen of hoggs at 121p/kilo.’
      • ‘Here's a pen of pigs from the local diary farm.’
      • ‘She was in charge of a pen of six monkeys, and they took one piece of apparatus each.’
      • ‘Molly gave a glance to a pen of puppies at his feet, there were five.’
      • ‘He was helping The Boss put a pen of cattle through the scales before they were trucked out so that they could take out the ones that didn't make the contracted weight.’
    2. 1.2 Any small enclosure in which someone or something can be confined.
      • ‘Pigs are confined to pens so small they can hardly move.’
      • ‘Today most pigs are kept in confined pens, fed a strict diet, and are slaughtered before their eighth month.’
      • ‘Each prisoner remained in his cell at all times, save for a brief daily exercise period held in an individual pen adjoining each cell.’
      • ‘You may want to purchase some special items such as a dog carrier, a collar and leash, and perhaps a pen when confinement is necessary.’
      • ‘Babies play in little pens or in safely confined areas on a blanket on the floor.’
    3. 1.3 A covered dock for a submarine or other warship.
      • ‘The Allies could now bomb factories and submarine pens with great frequency and accuracy.’
      • ‘Massive submarine pens were built near Bordeaux and the impact they had can be seen from the following figures.’
      • ‘His main aim was a breakthrough to the coast of Belgium so that German submarine pens could be destroyed.’
      • ‘Sometimes he was right, as in his denunciation of the pointless attacks on the concrete-reinforced U-boat pens on the French coast.’
      • ‘The attacks by day and night utterly destroyed the towns surrounding the submarine pens but did virtually no damage to the targets themselves.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Put or keep (an animal) in a pen.

    ‘it was the practice to pen the sheep for clipping’
    • ‘The animals will be penned so that people can pat them and speak to Santa before a final high street parade at 1.45 pm.’
    • ‘We were driving about 140 head of horses down this right of way, to pen them.’
    • ‘Tess made a little outrun and brought the ducks to a small wire pen and penned them.’
    • ‘Now the goats weren't penned at the time but we figured with the two of us it would be no problem to grab them.’
    • ‘To one side along the palisade stood crofts which held penned goats, cattle, and a few sheep.’
    confine, enclose, impound, shut in, fence in
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1pen someone up/in Confine someone in a restricted space.
      ‘they had been penned up day and night in the house’
      • ‘There, unable to avoid the blows because they were penned in by the trap, the enemy would be crushed under the maces of the battlemothers.’
      • ‘But that denies then your nature as Canadians, like saying it's because you have laws that pen you in.’
      • ‘Not that he was uncomfortable being without a shirt, it was just the fact that he had three females staring down at him, almost as if they were penning him in.’
      • ‘Scotland Yard said about 200 to 300 protesters were still in the Oxford Circus area, where they had been penned in by riot police for about seven hours.’
      • ‘They also claim they are penned in by the almost impossible requirement that they prove an officer had the specific intent to kill or injure a victim in order to get a conviction.’
      • ‘Police ordered the picketers to stay on the sidewalk, set up wooden barricades to pen them in and told strikers to extinguish the fires in oil drums they lit to stay warm.’
      • ‘She felt a presence all around her, as if she was being watched, being penned in, being trapped.’
      • ‘Some paced back and forth as if they were penned in with no way out.’
      • ‘It is going to be very difficult for us and we will be penned in for periods.’
      • ‘At least 20 protesters were injured, two seriously, after being penned into an enclosed area.’
      confine, enclose, impound, shut up, pen, pen in, pen up, fence in, hedge in
      confine, enclose, impound, pen, pen in, pen up, fence in, hedge in
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English penn, of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

pen

/pɛn//pen/

Main definitions of pen in US English:

: pen1pen2pen3pen4PEN5

pen3

noun

  • A female swan.

    • ‘The two swans (a pen and a cob) have since brought seven baby cygnets into the world.’
    • ‘The pen, or female swan, was visible on the nest, but there was no sign of her paramour.’
    • ‘In early May, the pen, or female swan, lays from 3-9 dull white eggs which measure 4 1/2 inches in length and weigh about 12 ounces.’
    • ‘he male mute swan, known as the cob, fiercely defends the territory that he and his mate, the pen, share.’
    • ‘There are ducks and cranes, and every few miles a cob and pen circle as only swans can in their own territory.’

Origin

Mid 16th century: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

pen

/pɛn//pen/

Main definitions of pen in US English:

: pen1pen2pen3pen4PEN5

pen4

noun

North American
informal
  • ‘you could get twenty years in a federal pen for shooting your mouth off like that’
    short for penitentiary (sense 1)
    • ‘"The po-lice threw me in the pen for shooting a man," he explained.’
    • ‘You know, they bury guys alive out at the federal pen for stuff like that.’
    • ‘It matters, but you really want to go to the heavy federal pen if you want street credibility.’
    • ‘Two years later, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to nine months in the federal pen.’

Pronunciation

pen

/pɛn//pen/

Main definitions of pen in US English:

: pen1pen2pen3pen4PEN5

PEN5

abbreviation

  • International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists.

Pronunciation

PEN

/pen//pɛn/