Also found in: Dictionary, Financial.
1. To use pencil to write or sketch something, especially in a crude or preliminary fashion. (In each usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pencil" and "out.") Let's just pencil out all the expenses we know about and use that as our starting budget. I like to pencil out what I'm drawing before going over it in ink.
2. To create a rough analysis or assessment of the potential return for an investment or expenditure. We'll need to pencil out the costs and benefits of the investment before we agree to anything. Considering how much debt the project has accrued, it makes you wonder if anyone in the local government penciled it out at all.
3. Of a financial investment, to be capable of generating the desired returns based on preliminary calculations or estimates. The government-published analysis has been overly optimistic in its assumptions about economic growth to make its new benefits package appear to pencil out. Always take your time to make sure a deal pencils out before you sign on the dotted line.
4. To take note that someone or something will not be available (for something). You can probably pencil me out of the party on Saturday. It looks like I'm going to have to work. Don't pencil out our rooftop patio just because it has started getting cold outside. We've got it set up to be the perfect venue no matter the time of year!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.