1. A small, fine brush of hair or bristles used by painters for laying on colours. With subtile pencil depainted was this storie. (Chaucer)
2. A slender cylinder or strip of black lead, coloured chalk, slate etc, or such a cylinder or strip inserted in a small wooden rod intended to be pointed, or in a case, which forms a handle, used for drawing or writing. See graphite.
3. Hence, figuratively, an artist’s ability or peculiar manner; also, in general, the act or occupation of the artist, descriptive writer, etc.
4. (Science: optics) An aggregate or collection of rays of light, especially when diverging from, or converging to, a point.
5. (Science: geometry) A number of lines that intersect in one point, the point of intersection being called the pencil point.
6. (Science: medicine) A small medicated bougie. Pencil case, a holder for pencil lead.
(Science: botany) Pencil flower, an American perennial leguminous herb (Stylosanthes elatior). Pencil lead, a slender rod of black lead, or the like, adapted for insertion in a holder.
Origin: OF. Pincel, F. Pinceau, L. Penicillum, penicillus, equiv. To peniculus, dim. Of penis a tail. Cf. Penicil.