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

Definition of blue-pencil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to edit especially by shortening or deletion

blue pencil


Definition of blue pencil (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from blue-pencil


blue penciller noun

Examples of blue-pencil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This man’s face is sketched in blue pencil amid rows of faces penciled in plain graphite gray. Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic, "The Breathtaking Ingenuity of Incarcerated Artists," 7 Feb. 2021 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, "The Trials of Vasily Grossman," 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, "Ten Women Whose Tongues and Pens Were as ‘Sharp’ as Knives," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blue-pencil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of blue-pencil


1888, in the meaning defined above


1845, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about blue-pencil

Time Traveler for blue-pencil

Time Traveler

The first known use of blue-pencil was in 1845

See more words from the same year

Statistics for blue-pencil

Cite this Entry

“Blue-pencil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on blue-pencil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for blue-pencil

Comments on blue-pencil

What made you want to look up blue-pencil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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