pen·​man·​ship | \ˈpen-mən-ˌship \

Definition of penmanship 

1 : the art or practice of writing with the pen

2 : quality or style of handwriting

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Synonyms & Antonyms for penmanship


calligraphy, handwriting, longhand, manuscript, script


print, type, typewriting

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Examples of penmanship in a Sentence

My third grade teacher thought it was important for us to learn penmanship. doctors are famous for their illegible penmanship

Recent Examples on the Web

Closer to penmanship than painting, this narrow concept of the medium seemed to have petered out a while ago. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Three Artists, Three Arcs, One Gallery," 31 May 2018 Laborious penmanship precludes writers from keeping pace with speakers. Stephen Phillips,, "New tech books: ‘Bad Blood,’ ‘Live Work Work Work Die,’ ‘The Efficiency Paradox’," 22 June 2018 In our increasingly digital age, penmanship is becoming something of a lost art. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Should Kids Still Learn to Write in Cursive?," 2 Aug. 2016 Then there's this guy who has mad Lord of the Rings penmanship skills. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Pictures Of Handwriting That Will Make You Feel Like You Fail At Life Completely," 14 Apr. 2015 Then again, maybe my low penmanship expectations are the product of my plebeian public-school education. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Anne Boleyn," 25 May 2018 Colleagues recall him writing a song a day, scribbling lyrics in the penmanship of a sixth-grade girl, his i's crowned with hearts. Karen Heller,, "What would Prince want? Two years later, his estate is a mess and his legacy unclear," 19 Apr. 2018 The contents of the note were great, and still, baseball fans could not stop admiring Arrieta’s penmanship. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Jake Arrieta's penmanship almost overshadowed his classy Cubs farewell letter," 13 Mar. 2018 The art of penmanship intrigued many scribes in early America. Charlene Paparizos,, "Join Chagrin Falls Schools' Superintendent for Final "Cafe Time" on May 4: Community Voices," 19 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of penmanship

1695, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near penmanship


pen machine






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Time Traveler for penmanship

The first known use of penmanship was in 1695

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More Definitions for penmanship



English Language Learners Definition of penmanship

: the art or practice of writing by hand

: the quality or style of someone's handwriting


pen·​man·​ship | \ˈpen-mən-ˌship \

Kids Definition of penmanship

: style or quality of handwriting

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Comments on penmanship

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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