Meaning of “pen” in the English Dictionary

"pen" in British English

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pennoun [ C ]

uk /pen/ us /pen/

pen noun [ C ] (FOR WRITING)

A1 a long, thin object used for writing or drawing with ink:

Don't write in pen (= using a pen), or you won't be able to rub out any mistakes you make.

More examples

  • She rummaged through all the drawers, looking for a pen.
  • My pen seems to be running out of ink - I need a refill.
  • She sat, pen in hand , searching for the right words.
  • I love my new pen - it just glides over the paper.
  • She keeps a supply of pens and pencils in a container by the phone.

penverb [ T ]

uk /pen/ us /pen/ -nn- formal

(Definition of “pen” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"pen" in American English

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us /pen/


[ C/U ] a thin device with a point used for writing or drawing with ink:

[ U ] You must fill out the application in pen (= using a pen).


[ C ] a small area surrounded by a fence in which animals are kept, or slang a prison or jail

penverb [ T ]

us /pen/ -nn-

pen verb [ T ] (WRITING DEVICE)

to use a pen to write or draw something with ink:

She penned (= wrote) a thank-you note.

pen verb [ T ] (ENCLOSED SPACE)

to enclose a person or animal in a small area by surrounding the area with a fence:

Sheep are penned behind the barn.

(Definition of “pen” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)