Definition of pencil in US English:

pencil

noun

  • 1An instrument for writing or drawing, consisting of a thin stick of graphite or a similar substance enclosed in a long thin piece of wood or fixed in a metal or plastic case.

    • ‘She then took a sketchpad from her handbag, along with some drawing pencils and an eraser.’
    • ‘When I finished reading the letter, I put it down and took out a blank piece of paper and a pencil, ready to list all of the guys that fit the two clues.’
    • ‘I liked drawing, but I only liked drawing with my art pencils.’
    • ‘All that's required is a pencil and a piece of paper and the self-nurtured belief that what you have to say is worth saying.’
    • ‘In the lush green lawns, they got busy with their drawing sheets, pencils and of course their creativity.’
    • ‘Architects educated during these two decades have seen their standard tools transformed, for better or worse, from pencils to laptops.’
    • ‘I rustled through pens, crumpled pieces of paper, pencils, candy wrappers, and junk that I had no idea was even in my back pack.’
    • ‘Jessi opened her folder and pulled out various pieces of paper and pencils, passing several to each bed.’
    • ‘Use a pencil and piece of paper to rearrange the letters of a word, and then decipher them.’
    • ‘Usually at the end of each day, I pull out the coloured pencils and drawing pad for my son.’
    • ‘There were sketchpads and drawing pencils, as well as other art materials on top of the dresser.’
    • ‘He ran out carrying a stack of blank papers, a bunch of crayons, pencils, charcoal sticks, a camera and a huge straw hat.’
    • ‘I always think of myself as a kid in the street with a pencil and piece of paper, watching other people.’
    • ‘He would give me some paper and a pencil and I would imitate him, making marks on paper.’
    • ‘Hardware and software is still more expensive than paper and pencils.’
    • ‘Getting comfortable by leaning against the cab, she drew out a sketch pad and a box of drawing pencils from her bag.’
    • ‘He laid the pencil and drawing paper carefully onto his bureau.’
    • ‘After hours of trying to elicit any scrap of detail about his life, someone had the idea of leaving him with a drawing pad and pencils.’
    • ‘Common complimentary gifts include plastic bags, ballpoint pens, pencils, writing pads, water bottles and paper cups.’
    • ‘He received some money from a federal welfare program and tried selling pencils.’
    1. 1.1 Graphite or a similar substance used as a medium for writing or drawing.
      ‘the words were scribbled in pencil’
      • ‘Noble works in pencil on paper - which doesn't sound particularly thrilling, does it?’
      • ‘The new writing in blue ink slightly overlapped my writing that was in pencil.’
      • ‘These 60 drawings show Picasso's work on paper with pencil, charcoal, ink and gouache.’
      • ‘The latter is certainly the centre-piece (with a price tag to match) and is accompanied by two beautiful pencil and ink drawings.’
      • ‘It's startling at one point to see her appear in a series of photographs, her features as striking as they are in Rossetti's paint and pencil.’
      • ‘The exhibition features 80 paintings of the alumni in different art medium, be it abstract, digital, sketches in pencil or portraits.’
      • ‘The loops, spikes and waves of pencil in two untitled drawings from 1956 look like writing crossing itself out.’
      • ‘Pictures must be drawn in pencil, black ink or charcoal so that they can be copied onto the front page.’
      • ‘He was more interested in carefully re-tracing the faded pencil scribbles on his side of the desk.’
      • ‘I found this note scribbled in pencil on the inside cover of a book I borrowed from the University of Melbourne's Baillieu Library.’
      • ‘Whether working in pencil or oil, her fine draftsmanship gives each animal its own expressive identity.’
      • ‘What you want the eraser to get rid of - black pencil, color pencil or ink marks - determines its makeup.’
      • ‘Most of the images were pencil and ink sketches, by no means family-friendly in content, with lots of whitespace.’
      • ‘Periodically Ian kept a diary, each entry scribbled in pencil.’
      • ‘His drawings are ink and pencil explosions that look more like an obscure form of musical notation than conventional architectural images.’
      • ‘The resulting sketch maps were hand-drawn on blank paper in pencil and black ink.’
      • ‘Students were allowed to use graphite pencil or a very fine-tipped felt pen.’
      • ‘The only thing I can think of is the old standby, pencil scribbled on the back.’
    2. 1.2usually with modifier A cosmetic in a long thin stick, designed to be applied to a particular part of the face.
      ‘an eyebrow pencil’
      • ‘Taking a dark purple lip liner pencil, she traced the outline of her full lips, and then filled in the outline with her favorite dark purple lipstick.’
      • ‘Apply a lash thickening mascara to your lashes and line both the upper and lower rims of your eyes with black kohl pencil.’
      • ‘She reached inside and pulled out - not mace, not pepper spray, but an eyeliner pencil.’
      • ‘The bar staff are dressed in school uniform with prefect badges and kohl pencil freckles and the clientele are sipping shrimp flavored vodka shooters.’
      • ‘First, find a lip liner pencil in the same color or tone as your lipstick.’
      • ‘Use a lip liner pencil as a base coat, then apply lip color.’
      • ‘She had a lot of mascara on - with dark eyeliner and pencil thin eyebrows.’
      • ‘Powder over the lips before using a lip pencil and lipstick.’
      • ‘He pulled out an eyeliner pencil and stroked underneath his eyes.’
      • ‘Taking an eyeliner pencil, I closed my eyes, stuck it between my lids, and swept it across.’
      • ‘She got as much necklaces and bracelet's as she could find, then very timidly she picked up an eyeliner pencil.’
      • ‘You can find eyebrow or facial hair colored pencils at beauty supply stores or online hair supply websites.’
      • ‘Exasperated, she threw down her eyeliner pencil, and merely stormed out of the room.’
      • ‘Two girls were standing in front of the mirror, one with an eye liner pencil in her right hand.’
      • ‘You had used only a subtle taupe pencil, which I would have thought would wash out my fair complexion.’
      • ‘Pick a nice soft eyeliner pencil (don't be afraid to spend a bit more) and some liquid liner too.’
      • ‘For eyeliners and eye brow pencils, select a shade of gray or brown or a complementary color rather than black.’
      • ‘Use lightning-fast strokes of brow pencil to help define brows that are well-groomed.’
      • ‘Some toilets have sharp edges in their drains that catch toilet tissue as well as items people drop in toilets, such as makeup pencils, pens and toys.’
      • ‘Before sharpening your eyeliner or lip pencil, place them in the freezer for 10 minutes.’
    3. 1.3 Something with the shape of a pencil.
      ‘a pencil of light’
      as modifier ‘a long pencil beam’
      • ‘This firm has also designed masts in the shape of a giant pencil, a sculpture and boat masts.’
      • ‘Mark then started nipping on the edges of the pencil shaped hole.’
      • ‘A big rubber thing with a beam like a broadsword and a pencil torch.’
      • ‘We spotted Mindbender, a freestanding pencil of solid ice that lay in a pile of chunks at the base of the cliff two days earlier.’
      • ‘There was no trace of the person responsible, except for a black pencil torch below one of the nests.’
      • ‘She opened the driver's door, extracting as she stepped out of the car the tiny pencil torch, which she always kept in the glove compartment.’
      • ‘Fan beam and pencil beam machines can scan laterally around the side of a patient, which is useful for measuring the bone density of the lumbar spine.’
      • ‘Prune out all canes with diameters less than a pencil width and old, brown canes that tend to be less productive.’
      beam, ray, shaft, finger, gleam
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4Physics Geometry A set of light rays, lines, etc., converging to or diverging narrowly from a single point.
      • ‘These conservative pencils of light also displayed the biological diversity of the ship's crew.’
      • ‘In the darkest works, the pencil lines are visible only as a sheen.’
      • ‘The thin line of his pencil transcribes the desert light and, for the first time in this exhibition, a unique and unmistakable vision appears.’
      • ‘Peepholes at strategic points along its length admitted pencils of light.’

verb

[with object]
  • Write, draw, or color with a pencil.

    ‘a previous owner has penciled their name inside the cover’
    ‘a penciled note’
    • ‘A second session has been pencilled in for the end of this month.’
    • ‘They are pencilled in, these particulars, in an old fashioned hand, sloping and graceful.’
    • ‘A final decision is expected next summer but existing and former reactor sites are being pencilled in for a new generation of nuclear power plants.’
    • ‘But it was predicted today that the inquiry will probably have to extend into a third session, which has been pencilled in for July.’
    • ‘If approved, the first market day is pencilled in for April 21.’
    • ‘More than 35 events and attractions have already been pencilled in over a ten-day timetable with room for plenty more.’
    • ‘Dates can be pencilled in for when key management appointments should take place, thus ensuring a smooth build-up of the team.’
    • ‘Paddy and the band were originally pencilled in to play at the venue on the following night, but this has now been brought forward to Friday.’
    • ‘Turns out that my name has been pencilled against this project for some weeks now - which is partly why no other work has been coming my way.’
    • ‘A release date is pencilled in for the autumn to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth this year.’
    • ‘As I write this he's pencilled it onto the canvas and judging by the noises he was making in the background as I spoke to him, he has just begun to paint.’
    • ‘Another meeting has been pencilled in for next month.’
    • ‘The inquiries are due to take place in April, although alternative dates in June and July have been pencilled in in the event of a General Election in May.’
    • ‘But there is again some doubt the pitch will be playable, so Monday has been pencilled in as an alternate date.’
    • ‘The first concrete proposals came in 1967, with the city engineer pencilling a route just outside the city walls.’
    • ‘Now the operation has been firmly pencilled in for the beginning of March, provided there are no last-minute setbacks.’
    • ‘Visions of him are off limits in your daydreams, his name is never again to be penciled in your notebook, and his school picture must promptly be removed from the inside of your locker.’
    • ‘I've been pencilled in to race at Musselburgh on Monday and if the ground is fast I'll be off up to Scotland.’
    • ‘In preparation, I penciled an outline of the new construction on a large sheet of butcher paper.’
    • ‘He has now been pencilled in for a race at Christmas.’
    write, write down, jot down, note, set down, take down, inscribe
    draw, trace, plot, chart, sketch, outline
    View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • pencil something in

    • 1Fill in an area or shape with pencil strokes.

      ‘a lot of the outlines had been penciled in’
      • ‘They don't have to be huge trees to give shade as the sun gets lower in the afternoon, and the southwest and west sides might need it the most, but experiment with where shadows fall and pencil in some trees.’
      • ‘He cut with dark stripes into the white of the ruff in the chin area, and then penciled them in lightly.’
    • 2Arrange, forecast, or note down something provisionally or tentatively.

      ‘May 15 was penciled in as the date for the meeting’
      • ‘Lots of banks are pencilled in for annual results next week, as the bank reporting season gets into full swing.’
      • ‘It has been making losses for the last five years, and losses have been pencilled in for the next two years too.’
      • ‘It has been hanging over us for about three weeks since the date was pencilled in.’
      • ‘Its next set of annual results are pencilled in for release towards the end of May.’
      • ‘But, saying that, it has been pencilled in for a while now and you have got to try and get on with it the best you can.’
      • ‘In addition, even though nutrition was also not specifically listed as a factor, one-third of those surveyed pencilled it in under Health Considerations.’
      • ‘More recently, plans to remove the ubiquitous protruding metal pipes have been pencilled in on a very, very urgent to-do list.’
      • ‘The country is estimated to have oil reserves that total some 50 billion barrels, and natural gas reserves have been pencilled in at a gigantic 1,700 trillion cubic feet.’
      • ‘A brace of house builders have been pencilled in for figures next week.’
      • ‘In fact, pencil it in before you finish cleaning your room-especially since you're now so organized and all.’
      arrange provisionally, make as a provisional arrangement, arrange subject to confirmation, forecast tentatively
      View synonyms
      1. 2.1Make a provisional or tentative arrangement with or for someone.
        ‘he was penciled in for surgery at the end of the month’
        • ‘That's the earliest she could pencil me in because she's busy-busy-busy.’
        • ‘The supporters' group had pencilled him in as the special guest for the February meeting on Monday prompting widespread interest.’
        • ‘The Poet Laureate has been pencilled in to headline a major North Yorkshire literary festival.’
        • ‘To be honest, we have not even pencilled him in for a game yet.’
        • ‘He is pencilled in as the next man to try.’
        • ‘This year, the store is pencilled in for profits of £2b, rising to £2.3b the year after.’
        • ‘Then he was pencilled in - despite the fact that the Scottish Executive has no remit on international development.’
        • ‘I'd say he probably needs another reserve outing and if he comes through that then he could be pencilled in for the week after.’
        • ‘In fact, it was good enough that we are pencilled in for next February already (just in case any of you want to escape the winter and visit next year)!’
        • ‘She will be penciled in on the other side.’

Origin

Middle English (denoting a fine paintbrush): from Old French pincel, from a diminutive of Latin peniculus ‘brush’, diminutive of penis ‘tail’. The verb was originally (early 16th century) in the sense ‘paint with a fine brush’.

Pronunciation

pencil

/ˈpɛnsəl//ˈpensəl/