writing and drawing implement
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Pens are devices used to apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for writing or drawing. Historically, reed pens, quill pens, and dip pens were used, with a nib of some sort to be dipped in the ink. Ruling pens allow precise adjustment of line width, and still find a few specialized uses, but technical pens such as the Rapidograph are more commonly used. Modern types also include ballpoint, rollerball, fountain, and felt or ceramic tip pens.


  • Whose noble praise
    Deserves a quill pluckt from an angel's wing.
    • Dorothy Berry, Sonnet, prefixed to Diana Primrose's Chain of Pearls (1699).
  • Beneath the rule of men entirely great
    The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • Hinc quam sit calamus sævior euse, patet.
    • From this it appears how much more cruel the pen may be than the sword.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section XXI. Mem. 4. Subsec. 4.
  • Oh! nature's noblest gift—my gray-goose quill!
    Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
    Torn from thy parent-bird to form a pen,
    That mighty instrument of little men!
    • Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), line 7.
  • The pen wherewith thou dost so heavenly sing
    Made of a quill from an angel's wing.
    • Henry Constable, Sonnet, found in Notes to Todd's Milton, Volume V, p. 454 (Ed. 1826).
  • The swifter hand doth the swift words outrun:
    Before the tongue hath spoke the hand hath done.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XIV, Epigram 208. Translation by Wright (on a shorthand writer).
  • Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.
    • If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
    • Attributed to Richelieu by Fournier, L'Esprit dans l'Histoire (1883), Chapter XLI, p. 255.
  • Tant la plume a eu sous le roi d'avantage sur l'épée.
    • So far had the pen, under the king, the superiority over the sword.
    • Saint Simon, Mémoires, Volume III (1702; Ed. 1856), p. 517.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 592-93.
  • Art thou a pen, whose task shall be
    To drown in ink
    What writers think?
    Oh, wisely write,
    That pages white
    Be not the worse for ink and thee.
  • For what made that in glory shine so long
    But poets' Pens, pluckt from Archangels' wings?
  • Anser, apie, vitellus, populus et regna gubernant.
    • Goose [pen] bee [wax] and calf [parchment] govern the world.
    • Quoted by James Howell. Letters, Book II. Letter 2.
  • The sacred Dove a quill did lend
    From her high-soaring wing.
    • F. Nethersole. Prefixed to Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victorie.
  • Non sest aliena res, quæ fere ab honestis negligi solet, cura bene ac velociter scribendi.
    • Men of quality are in the wrong to undervalue, as they often do, the practise of a fair and quick hand in writing; for it is no immaterial accomplishment.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratorio, I. 5.
  • You write with ease, to show your breeding, But easy writing's curst hard reading.
  • The feather, whence the pen
    Was shaped that traced the lives of these good men,
    Dropped from an Angel's wing.

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