Pencil – An 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 cylindrical case.
The word pencil dates back to before pencils as we know them today – which can be dated back to the 16th century. In the early 14th century, ‘pencil’ referred to an artist’s smallest brushes. It came from the Latin word ‘penicillus’ which was used to mean the same thing but meant literally ‘little tail’. The ending ‘illus’ indicated it was a small version of a brush, known as a ‘peniculus’. Interestingly ‘peniculus’ already had an ending to mean small, the ‘culus’ part which had been added to the end of ‘penis’; tail meant ‘small penis’ – in case you didn’t already know, the ancient Roman’s were weird! So ‘pencil’ means really, small penis’.