- The definition of a quill is a stiff feather in a bird's wing or tail, the hollow stem of a feather or the spines from a porcupine.
An example of a quill is what people used for writing with ink before metal pen tips were invented.
A quill being used as a pen.
- any of the large, stiff wing or tail feathers of a bird
- the hollow, horny stem of a feather; calamus
- any of the spines of a porcupine or hedgehog
- any of various things made from the quill of a feather, specif., a pen for writing
- a musical pipe made of a hollow stem, reed, or cane
- a weaver's spindle or bobbin
- a hollow shaft in certain mechanical devices
- Pharmacy a small roll of dried bark, as of cinchona, cinnamon, etc.
Origin of quillMiddle English quil, hollow stalk, weaver's quill, probably ; from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch as in Low German quiele, quill of a feather ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form gwel-, to stick, stab
- to form with or into quillings
- to wind (thread or yarn) on a quill (sense )
- to cover or pierce with quills, as of a porcupine
- The hollow stemlike main shaft of a feather. Also called calamus.
- Any of the larger wing or tail feathers of a bird.
- A writing pen made from the shaft of a feather.
- Music a. A plectrum for a stringed instrument of the clavichord type.b. A pipe having a hollow stem.
- A toothpick made from the stem of a feather.
- One of the sharp hollow spines of a porcupine or hedgehog.
- A spindle or bobbin around which yarn is wound in weaving.
- A hollow shaft that rotates on a solid shaft when gears are engaged.
verbquilled, quill·ing, quills
- To wind (thread or yarn) onto a quill.
- To make or press small ridges in (fabric).
Origin of quillMiddle English quil.
- The lower shaft of a feather, specifically the region lacking barbs.
- A pen made from a feather.
- (figuratively) Any pen.
- He picked up his quill and wrote a poem.
- A sharply pointed, barbed, and easily detached needle-like structure that grows on the skin of a porcupine or hedgehog as a defense against predators.
- A thin piece of bark, especially of cinnamon or cinchona, curled up into a tube.
- The pen of a squid.
- (music) The plectrum with which musicians strike the strings of certain instruments.
- (music) The tube of a musical instrument.
- Something having the form of a quill, such as the fold or plain of a ruff, or (weaving) a spindle, or spool, upon which the thread for the woof is wound in a shuttle.
(third-person singular simple present quills, present participle quilling, simple past and past participle quilled)
From Middle English "quil", which is first attested in the early 15th century with the meanings "fragment of reed" and "shaft of a feather." Cognate to (probably derived from) Low German "quiele" (compare Middle High German "kil" ["large feather", "quill"] which is derived from the Low German term), further etymology is unknown.
The "porcupine spike" meaning was first attested in the early 17th century.