A penknife or pen knife is a small folding pocket knife, originally used for cutting or sharpening a quill to make a pen nib. [penknife, Oxford English Dictionary Online, Oxford University Press, 2006-03; accessed 2007-12-25] It may have single or multiple blades and additional tools incorporated into the design.

Over the last hundred years there has been a proliferation of multi-function knives with multifarious and often ingenious gadgets including awls, reamers, scissors, nail files, corkscrews, tweezers, toothpicks and so on, and the tradition continues with the incorporation of modern devices such as ballpoint pens, LED flashlights and USB flash drives.

The most famous example of a multi-function knife is the Swiss Army knife, some versions of which number dozens of functions and are really more of a folding multi-tool, incorporating a blade or two, than a penknife with extras.

A larger folding knife, especially one where the blade locks into place, is often called a claspknife.

ee also

* Penny knife


External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Penknife — Pen knife , n.; pl. {Penknives}. [Pen + knife.] A small pocketknife; formerly, a knife used for making and mending quill pens. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • penknife — early 15c., from PEN (Cf. pen) (1) + KNIFE (Cf. knife) (n.). So called because such small knives were used to sharpen quills …   Etymology dictionary

  • penknife — ► NOUN ▪ a small knife with a blade which folds into the handle …   English terms dictionary

  • penknife — [pen′nīf΄] n. pl. penknives [pen′nīvz΄] a small pocketknife; originally, one used in making quill pens …   English World dictionary

  • penknife — UK [ˈpenˌnaɪf] / US noun [countable] Word forms penknife : singular penknife plural penknives UK [ˈpenˌnaɪvz] / US a small knife with one or more blades that fold into the handle …   English dictionary

  • penknife — [[t]pe̱nnaɪf[/t]] penknives N COUNT A penknife is a small knife with a blade that folds back into the handle …   English dictionary

  • penknife — noun Etymology: Middle English; from its original use for mending quill pens Date: 15th century a small pocketknife usually with only one blade …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • penknife — /pen nuyf /, n., pl. penknives. a small pocketknife, formerly one used for making and sharpening quill pens. [1400 50; late ME; see PEN1, KNIFE] * * * …   Universalium

  • penknife — noun 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 …   Wiktionary

  • penknife — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. pocketknife, jackknife, Boy Scout knife, Barlow knife; see knife …   English dictionary for students

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