Penknife definition

pĕnnīf
Frequency:
A small pocketknife.
noun
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A small pocketknife; originally, one used in fashioning quill pens.
noun
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A small pocketknife; a small knife with a blade which folds into the hand. Penknives often incorporate other tools such as corkscrews, and are generally smaller than pocketknives as a group.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
penknife
Plural:
penknives

Origin of penknife

  • So called because it was originally used for cutting quill pens

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • originally a small knife used for cutting the nib of a quill pen

    From Wiktionary