pen 1 (pĕn)
1. An instrument for writing or drawing with ink or similar fluid, especially:
a. A ballpoint pen.
b. A fountain pen.
c. A pen point.
d. A penholder and its pen point.
e. A quill.
a. An instrument for writing regarded as a means of expression: "Tyranny has no enemy so formidable as the pen" (William Cobbett).
b. A writer or an author: a hired pen.
c. A style of writing: wrote plays with a witty pen.
3. A pen-shaped device containing something other than ink: an insulin pen; a vaporizer pen.
4. Any of various other pen-shaped devices, such as a laser pointer.
5. The chitinous internal shell of a squid.
6. A pen shell.
7. pens Archaic The primary feathers or wings of a bird.
tr.v. penned, pen·ning, pens
To write or compose: penned a letter.
[Middle English penne, from Old French, from Late Latin penna, from Latin, feather; see pet- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.