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pen (n.1)

late 13c., penne, "writing implement made from the hard, hollow stem at the base of a feather," from Old French pene "quill pen; feather" (12c.) and directly from Latin penna "a feather, plume," in plural "a wing," in Late Latin, "a pen for writing," from Old Latin petna, pesna, from PIE *pet-na-, suffixed form of root *pet- "to rush; to fly."

In later French, this word means only "long feather of a bird," while the equivalent of English plume is used for "writing implement;" the senses of the two words in French thus are reversed from the situation in English.

In Middle English also "a feather," especially a large one from the wing or tail. The sense was extended to any instrument of similar form used for writing by means of fluid ink. Pen-and-ink (adj.) "made or done with a pen and ink" is attested from 1670s. Pen name "fictitious name assumed by an author" is recorded from mid-19c. (French nom de plume was used in English from 1823). Southey uses pen-gossip (v.) "to gossip by correspondence" (1818).

pen (n.2)

"small enclosure for domestic animals," Old English penn, penne, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Old English pinn "pin, peg" (see pin (n.)) on the notion of a bolted gate or else "structure made of pointed stakes."

pen (v.1)

"to write, compose and commit to paper," late 15c., from pen (n.1). Related: Penned; penning.

pen (v.2)

"to confine or enclose in a pen," c. 1200, pennen, from Old English *pennian (only in compounds), from the source of pen (n.2). Related: Penned; penning.

pen (n.3)

slang, "prison," 1884, shortening of penitentiary; earlier use (1845) probably is a figurative extension of pen (n.2) "enclosure for animals."

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