1. A narrow, generally cylindrical implement for writing, drawing, or marking, consisting of a thin rod of graphite, colored wax, or similar substance encased in wood or held in a mechanical holder.
2. Something shaped or used like a pencil, especially a narrow medicated or cosmetic stick: an eyebrow pencil.
a. A style or technique in drawing or delineating.
b. Descriptive skill: "His characters are drawn with a strong pencil" (Henry Hallam).
c. An artist's brush, especially a fine one.
4. Physics A beam of radiant energy in the form of a narrow cone or cylinder.
5. Mathematics A family of geometric objects, such as lines, that have a common property, such as passage through a given line in a given plane.
tr.v. pen·ciled, pen·cil·ing, pen·cils also pen·cilled or pen·cil·lingPhrasal Verbs:
1. To write or produce by using a pencil.
2. To mark or color with or as if with a pencil.
1. To schedule tentatively: penciled in a staff meeting for 3:00.
2. To schedule a tentative appointment with: penciled him in for lunch next Monday.
1. To calculate or estimate (projected profits and losses or other figures): penciled out the likely sales for the new product.
2. To appear likely to be of sufficient benefit to justify the projected costs: rejected the proposed merger because it failed to pencil out.
[Middle English pencel, artist's brush, from Old French pincel, peincel, from Vulgar Latin *pēnicellus, alteration of Latin pēnicillus, diminutive of pēniculus; see pes- in the Appendix of Indo-European rootsdiminutive of pēnis, tail, brush; see pes- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
pencil·er, pencil·ler n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.