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This article is about the writing implement. For alternate uses, see Pen (disambiguation).

A pen is a writing instrument which applies ink to some surface.


Terms and expressions

Originally the word meant quill, and is derived from pinna (Latin for feather. This is because early pens were made from goose feathers by carving the feather with a penknife). Pen is also used as a verbal expression of "to create" or "to write"; for example, "Today, I think I'll pen the Great Canadian Novel." Pens may also be known, although not very commonly, as frindles. This word was invented by the author Andrew Clements in his novel Frindle, the premise of which is that a schoolboy decides to call pens "frindles" and the usage becomes common throughout America.


Types of pens currently in use include the ballpoint pen, the fine-line marker pen, the artist's pen, and the fountain pen.

A ballpoint pen is a writing instrument, more specifically a pen, similar to a pencil in size and shape. There are two basic types of ball point pen: disposable and refillable. The ball point pen was invented in 1938 by the Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro.

An erasable pen is a kind of pen whose ink can be erased. It is usually a ballpoint pen. Gel pens are sometimes erasable as well.

Differences with other writing instruments

Urban legend

According to urban legend, NASA spent millions of dollars during the 1960s to develop a space pen, which could work in the absence of gravity and air pressure, and in extreme temperatures (The usual, comedic punch-line is "The Soviets used a 50¢ pencil"). In truth, the pen was developed long before the space program, by folks that wanted a pen that would write upside down. Prior to its discovery by NASA, American space missions did rely on lead pencils.

See also

External links

  • Urban Legends: the "Space Pen"

Last updated: 02-08-2005 13:28:45
Last updated: 02-26-2005 20:16:42