Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

pencil whip

1. To complete a form or record, especially a checklist, without doing the work required or by providing falsified or incomplete information. It has come to light that the safety supervisor aboard the oil rig had been pencil whipping his observational reports for several weeks leading up to the disaster.
2. To approve such a form without actually verifying that the contents are accurate or properly completed. We're supposed to fill out a detailed checklist after each shift, but I know my boss just pencil whips them.
See also: pencil, whip

pencil neck

1. A particularly weak, meek, or unimpressive person; a wimp. No little pencil neck like you is going to give me orders, pal!
2. A person who is very inclined toward academic or intellectual pursuits. I always made sure to make friends with the pencil necks in my math classes so they would help me out with the homework.
See also: neck, pencil


1. Particularly weak, meek, or unimpressive; wimpy. No pencil-necked twerp like you is going to give me orders, pal!
2. Very inclined toward academic or intellectual pursuits. I always made sure to make friends with the pencil-necked geeks in my math classes so they would help me out with the homework.

pencil pusher

One who has a boring, meaningless office job. Primarily heard in US. I refuse to be a pencil pusher the rest of my life. I have big dreams and goals!
See also: pencil, pusher

put lead in (one's) pencil

Of a man, to increase, enhance, or restore one's sexual ability or vigor. Following this six-step program will put lead in your pencil, guaranteed. The only real way to put lead in your pencil is to eat well, exercise regularly, and have self-confidence.
See also: lead, pencil, put

lead in (one's) pencil

An increase, enhancement, or restoration of one's sexual ability or vigor. Following this six-step program will put lead in your pencil, guaranteed. The only real way to put lead in your pencil is to eat well, exercise regularly, and have self-confidence.
See also: lead, pencil

pencil (something) in

1. To write something in pencil, especially so that one retains the ability to change or erase it later. Why don't we just pencil in the dates we'd like, and we can go back and change them if they're not available? Pencil your answers in, and I'll check them when I'm done with work.
2. By extension, to schedule or plan something for a tentative or temporary time or date. Let's pencil in the meeting for December 15th—if there are any issues with the date, we can always change it. They're going to pencil the appointment in for 2 PM.
See also: pencil

pencil (one) in

To tentatively or temporarily schedule one for an appointment (that may or may not change). I need to have a date in the system, so I'll just pencil you in for the middle of July—just change it online once you've picked a date you're happy with. They penciled us in for 2 PM, so if we can't make it we have to let them know in advance.
See also: pencil

have lead in (one's) pencil

vulgar slang To be able to have an erection. You'll have lead in your pencil, guaranteed, after following this six-step program. I was so drunk that I didn't have lead in my pencil, if you know what I mean.
See also: have, lead, pencil

in pencil

Using a pencil, as opposed to a pen or other such writing implement. The teacher says that we have to do our math homework in pencil. I do all of my sketches in pencil first.
See also: pencil

not the sharpest pencil in the cup

Not intelligent; dim-witted or prone to stupidity. The new boyfriend isn't the sharpest pencil in the cup, but he's pretty good looking! I wasn't the sharpest pencil in the cup in school, but I still managed to find a profession I loved.
See also: cup, not, pencil, sharp

in pencil

written or signed with a pencil. Why did you write your report in pencil? You can't sign a check in pencil!
See also: pencil

pencil someone or something in

to write in something with a pencil. (Implies that the writing is not final.) This isn't a firm appointment yet, so I will just pencil it in. I penciled in a tentative answer.
See also: pencil

put lead in one's pencil

Enhance or restore sexual vigor, as in Try one of these hot peppers; that'll put lead in your pencil. This phrase, a euphemism for causing an erection, is considered far more vulgar than the contemporary synonym put hair on one's chest, alluding to a secondary male sex characteristic. [Colloquial; c. 1900]
See also: lead, pencil, put

put lead in your pencil

If someone says that something puts lead in a man's pencil, they are suggesting humorously that it improves his sexual ability. Note: Lead is a very heavy metal. Steve chewed the tobacco and spat a brown spot into the snow. `Puts lead in your pencil,' he said. Note: You can also say that someone has lead in their pencil, to praise their sexual ability. He'd been blessed with amazing stamina and a lot of lead in his pencil. Note: The lead in a pencil is the part in the centre which makes a mark on paper.
See also: lead, pencil, put

a pen pusher

mainly BRITISH or

a pencil pusher


a paper pusher

COMMON If you describe someone as a pen pusher or a pencil pusher, you mean that they have a boring office job and do not make any important decisions. People who used to be called administrators, and perhaps seen as just pen pushers, have been transformed into senior managers. Many of the men who now sit on company boards are pencil pushers with qualifications from top schools, but lack experience in business. Note: In both American and British English, you can also call someone a paper pusher. I didn't want to be just another faceless paper pusher. Note: You can refer to office work as pen-pushing, pencil-pushing, or paper-pushing. You can also say that office workers push papers or push pens. I want our police officers freed from paper-pushing. I'm very thankful that I can make a living from my art, rather than working as a waiter or pushing papers eight hours a day.
See also: pen, pusher

lead in your pencil

vigour or energy, especially sexual energy in a man. informal
1972 Dan Lees Zodiac The couscous is supposed to put lead in your pencil but with Daria I needed neither a talking point nor an aphrodisiac.
See also: lead, pencil

pencil in

1. To write something in with a pencil: The assistant penciled in the editorial changes on the manuscript. After the teacher reviewed my test, I penciled the corrections in.
2. To schedule something tentatively: The secretary penciled in a staff meeting for 3:00. The band penciled a rehearsal in on Friday.
3. To schedule a tentative appointment with someone: We penciled him in for lunch next Monday. The interviewers penciled in the applicant for the end of the week.
See also: pencil

have lead in one’s pencil

1. tv. to be vigorous and active. (Widely known phrase. Not taboo.) Your problem, Tom, is that you should have more lead in your pencil. You just don’t have the stamina.
2. tv. to have an erection of the penis. (Usually objectionable.) Due to his drinking habits, he never has any lead in his pencil.
See also: have, lead, pencil


n. a bureaucrat; a clerk; an office worker. (see also paper-pusher.) Look here, you lousy pencil-pusher, I want to talk to your boss!

pencil me in

Arrange for an event or appointment with the realization it may have to be canceled or changed, as a penciled note can be erased. For example, “I don’t know for sure if I can get to your meeting, but pencil me in.” This usage, from the late 1900s, persists even though it may refer to posting on an electronic device such as an iPad rather than writing in a diary. It is becoming a cliché.
See also: pencil
References in periodicals archive ?
PS7.99, BLASIA SOFT CUBE PENCIL CASE: This stylish case adds glamour to everyday tasks with pretty bow detailing.
Removing the notch and creating a bezel-free display also means wider screen estate, which, combined with the Apple Pencil, is perfect for use in photo-editing and graphics-manipulating apps.
Eco Hub Cebu, the firm that innovated the plantable pencils, said one can grow plants from it by simply placing the stub on moist soil.
Electric motors power the factory and move the pencil parts through each step.
The tower took three hours to make and used 10,000 pencils. It was nine feet and seven inches high an inch higher than the previous record holding tower.
Yellow Pencil: Film Advertising Crafts -- Special Effects for Film Advertising
2 TEXTURED PENCIL SKIRTS DON'T discard your leather or PU knee-lengther just because winter is over - Bottega Veneta makes a strong case for textured pencil skirts in warmer weather.
burgundy detail 139 In distressed denim and with raw edges, these are about as casual as a pencil skirt gets and they're ideal for tapping into the cowgirl trend, too, by adding a Western belt and buckled boots.
1 Sosandar leather buckle pencil skirt, ( printed pencil skirts WINTERY checks and tartan make way for fresher prints, like gingham and stripes, for spring.
New York, NY, November 29, 2017 --( PENCIL, a leading New York City non-profit connecting students to success, announced today the unveiling of its first-ever billboard for good, in partnership with OUTFRONT Media, one of the largest out-of-home companies in North America.
Publishing house Penguin Random House UK announced on Thursday that its imprint Puffin is to publish 'Malala's Magic Pencil', a picture book by Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activitist for female education who was shot by the Taliban in 2012.
Corneal stromal and/or penetrating ocular injuries from pencils and pencil lead are more common in childhood and may lead to intraocular infection or severe intraocular sterile inflammatory reaction.
In partnership with the Tagaytay City government, the council launched the Pencil Project, which stands for Program for the Enhancement of Competencies and Initiatives for Literacy.