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penknife

[pen-nahyf] /ˈpɛnˌnaɪf/
noun, plural penknives.
1.
a small pocketknife, formerly one used for making and sharpening quill pens.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English; see pen1, knife
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for penknives

penknife

/ˈpɛnˌnaɪf/
noun (pl) -knives
1.
a small knife with one or more blades that fold into the handle; pocketknife
Word Origin
C15: so called because it was originally used for making and repairing quill pens
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for penknives

penknife

n.

early 15c., from pen (n.1) + knife (n.). So called because such small knives were used to sharpen quills.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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