Monday, October 1, 2007

In a Word: Pencil

Imagine my surprise when I looked up the word pencil in the Online Etymology Dictionary:
c.1386, "an artist's fine brush of camel hair," from O.Fr. pincel "artist's paintbrush" (Fr. pinceau), from L. penicillus "paintbrush, pencil," lit. "little tail," dim. of peniculus "brush," itself a dim. of penis "tail" (see penis).
Think about that the next time you cradle a pencil in your hand.


Jennifer Snow said...

I'm thinking about it, and I'm more amused by the idea than it really merits. That, and I keep wanting to come up with bad puns.

Toiler said...

Its merits are very small, indeed. The point is, words arise from unexpected places.