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poison pen

1. adjective (hyphenated and used before a noun) Spiteful, malicious, or defamatory in composition, as of a letter or other written work, generally sent anonymously and with the aim of damaging or destroying a person's, group's, or organization's reputation or happiness. After agreeing to defend the alleged mass-murderer, the public defendant began receiving a large number of poison-pen letters from around the city. We've had enough trouble getting this restaurant up and running without having a poison-pen review like that in the papers!
2. adjective (hyphenated and used before a noun) Characterized by, typified by, or inclined toward the writing and sending of such letters or pieces of writing. The outspoken feminist figure has been the target of a hateful poison-pen campaign by online misogynists who have hidden behind the shield of anonymity to conduct their attacks.
3. noun A disposition, attitude, inclination, or ability typified by the writing and sending such letters or pieces of writing. Every year or so, there is a new piece of diatribe and vitriol from the poison pen of the infamous white supremacist. The poison pen of the oft-feared but well-respected critic has been enough to cause the downfall of more than one virtuoso's career.
See also: pen, poison

slip of the pen

An unintentional mistake in one's writing, such as incorrect spelling, word choice, or meaning. Whoops, I meant to tell my mother that she was welcome to call over next Monday, but I actually wrote "next month" instead. Oh well, she'll understand that it was just a slip of the pen. Now take your time while writing these test essays—you don't want a few slips of the pen to be the reason you get a lower grade!
See also: of, pen, slip

pen pusher

One who has a boring, meaningless office job. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Gary was tired of being a pen pusher, so he decided to quit and start his own business.
See also: pen, pusher

poison-pen letter

A letter that contains malicious statements or accusations about the recipient or another party. Shortly after announcing his candidacy, he received an anonymous poison-pen letter attacking his platform.
See also: letter

*in the bull pen

 
1. Lit. [of a baseball pitcher to be] in a special place near the playing field, warming up to pitch. (*Typically: be ~; go [into] ~.) You can tell who is pitching next by seeing who is in the bull pen. Our best pitcher just went into the bull pen. He'll be pitching soon.
2. Fig. in reserve, ready if needed. I'm willing to be in the bull pen. Just call me if you need me.
See also: bull, pen

pen is mightier than the sword

Prov. Eloquent writing persuades people better than military force. Believing that the pen is mightier than the sword, the rebels began publishing an underground newspaper. Alan: Why do you want to become a journalist? Bill: The pen is mightier than the sword.
See also: mighty, pen, sword

pen (someone or an animal) in (some place)

to confine someone or an animal in a pen. We penned all the kids in out in the backyard while we got the party things ready in the house. We had to pen in the kids to keep them away from the traffic. Alice penned her dog in.
See also: pen

pen (someone or an animal) up

to confine someone to a confined space or an animal to a pen. He said he didn't want them to pen him up in an office all day. They penned up the dog during the day.
See also: pen, up

put pen to paper

also set pen to paper
to write on paper You can e-mail us, or, of course, you can always put pen to paper and send us a letter.
See also: paper, pen, put

put pen to paper

to start to write something I keep meaning to write to her but I haven't yet managed to put pen to paper.
See also: paper, pen, put

The pen is mightier than the sword.

  (formal)
something that you say which means thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than the use of force or violence Reason is our greatest weapon against such tyrants. The pen is mightier than the sword.
See also: mighty, pen, sword

a poison-pen letter

a letter that has no signature and says unpleasant things about the person it is sent to After he was convicted, his family received a number of poison-pen letters.
See also: letter

a pen pusher

  (British & Australian) also a pencil pusher (American)
someone who has a boring job in an office He's a frustrated desk-bound pen pusher who dreams of trekking through jungles. (British & Australian)
See also: pen, pusher

poison-pen letter

A letter, usually anonymous, that makes malicious statements about the recipient or a third party. For example, She told the police about the poison-pen letters, but they said they couldn't pursue the matter . [Early 1900s]
See also: letter

slip of the lip

Also, slip of the tongue or pen . An inadvertent mistake in speaking (or writing), as in It was just a slip of the lip that made me say the wrong name, or She didn't mean it; it was a slip of the tongue, or He intended to write "the honorable" but a slip of the pen turned it into "reverend." The usage with pen dates from the mid-1600s; the others are a century or so younger.
See also: lip, of, slip

pen in

v.
To confine someone or something in or as if in a pen: The farmer penned the pigs in for the night. If you don't pen in the chickens, the wolves will get them.
See also: pen

pen

n. a penitentiary; prison. (Underworld.) Bart got sent to the pen for fifteen years.
References in classic literature ?
Miss Brass being by this time deep in the bill of costs, took no notice whatever of Dick, but went scratching on, with a noisy pen, scoring down the figures with evident delight, and working like a steam-engine.
When he had looked so long that he could see nothing, Dick took his eyes off the fair object of his amazement, turned over the leaves of the draft he was to copy, dipped his pen into the inkstand, and at last, and by slow approaches, began to write.
Noel Vanstone took up another pen and began to strip the second quill of its feathers as he had stripped the first.
Penn and Manuel stood knee-deep among cod in the pen, flourishing drawn knives.
With a yell from Manuel the work began again, and never stopped till the pen was empty.
Dan sluiced the pen energetically, unshipped the table, set it up to dry in the moonlight, ran the red knife-blades through a wad of oakum, and began to sharpen them on a tiny grindstone, as Harvey threw offal and backbones overboard under his direction.
White Fang came to look forward eagerly to the gathering of the men around his pen.
In the deep silence I could hear the pen of my secretary traveling steadily over the paper while it wrote those words.
The writing-case was on her lap, with the letter and the pen lying on it.
Its white fingers took the pen and wrote on the unfinished letter.
But he had still left to him his pen and his undaunted courage.
Razumov had been admitted twice to that suite of several small dark rooms on the top floor: dusty window-panes, litter of all sorts of sweepings all over the place, half-full glasses of tea forgotten on every table, the two Laspara daughters prowling about enigmatically silent, sleepy-eyed, corsetless, and generally, in their want of shape and the disorder of their rumpled attire, resembling old dolls; the great but obscure Julius, his feet twisted round his three-legged stool, always ready to receive the visitors, the pen instantly dropped, the body screwed round with a striking display of the lofty brow and of the great austere beard.
He sat long enough for the declining sun to dip behind the roofs of the town at his back, and throw the shadow of the houses on the lake front over the islet, before he pulled out of his pocket a fountain pen, opened a small notebook on his knee, and began to write quickly, raising his eyes now and then at the connecting arm of the bridge.
After finishing his scribbling, Razumov, with a sort of feverish haste, put away the pen, then rammed the notebook into his pocket, first tearing out the written pages with an almost convulsive brusqueness.
CIC) (NASDAQ-NMS: CICI) today announced its first consumer product for the Macintosh market in the United States -- MacHandwriter(R) -- a complete pen input system, including a suite of software and state-of-the-art electronic pen and ultra-thin graphics tablet.