noun, plural penknives.
a small pocketknife, formerly one used for making and sharpening quill pens.

1400–50; late Middle English; see pen1, knife Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
penknife (ˈpɛnˌnaɪf)
n , pl -knives
a small knife with one or more blades that fold into the handle; pocketknife
[C15: so called because it was originally used for making and repairing quill pens]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 15c., so called because such small knives were used to sharpen quills.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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