Word for Wednesday: Pen

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for September is stationery

Stationery comes from the Latin ‘stationarius’ which means ‘tradesman who sells from a station or shop’. The word was first used to describe ‘the articles sold by a stationer’ in 1727.

Last week we looked at the word pencil, and today's stationery-themed word is pen

A pen is writing implement with a point from which ink flows,

Although you might expect pen to have the same word root as pencil, it actually comes from the Old French ‘pene’ meaning ‘quill pen’ or ‘feather’, which in turn comes from the Latin ‘penna’ meaning ‘feather’ or ‘plume’. The word entered English as ‘penne’ in the late thirteenth century. 

The tube-shaped pasta known as ‘penne’ was named so for its resemblance to the quill pen. The word entered English in this context in 1981 (from the Italian word which dates to 1875). 

Quill dates to around 1400 when it referred to the ‘hollow stem of a feather’ before taking on the meaning ‘goose quill pen’ in the 1550s. It probably comes from the Low German ‘quiele’. 


09 Sep 2020
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