1 of 2


blue-pen·​cil ˈblü-ˈpen(t)-səl How to pronounce blue-pencil (audio)
blue-penciled; blue-penciling; blue-pencils

transitive verb

: to edit especially by shortening or deletion
blue penciller noun

blue pencil

2 of 2


: a writing instrument used for editing
also : the act or practice of blue-penciling

Examples of blue-pencil in a Sentence

Verb military censors blue-penciled any remarks that could possibly be deemed critical
Recent Examples on the Web
Stalin’s blue pencil, unlike that of other editors, glided across not just poetry chapbooks and literary journals but life itself. Aaron Lake Smith, Harper's magazine, 24 June 2019 But a blue pencil is as strong as a sword, and more cut and thrust would have made this book sharper. Laura Jacobs, New York Times, 11 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'blue-pencil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1888, in the meaning defined above


1845, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of blue-pencil was in 1845

Dictionary Entries Near blue-pencil

blue pencil


blue perch

Cite this Entry

“Blue-pencil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!