\ ˈkwil How to pronounce quill (audio) \

Definition of quill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a bobbin, spool, or spindle on which filling yarn is wound
(2) : a hollow shaft often surrounding another shaft and used in various mechanical devices
b : a roll of dried bark cinnamon quills
2a(1) : the hollow horny shaft of a feather — see feather illustration
(2) : feather especially : one of the large stiff feathers of the wing or tail
b : one of the hollow sharp spines of a porcupine or hedgehog
3 : something made from or resembling the quill of a feather especially : a pen for writing
4 : a float for a fishing line


quilled; quilling; quills

Definition of quill (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pierce with quills
2a : to wind (thread or yarn) on a quill
b : to make a series of small rounded ridges in (cloth)

Examples of quill in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Since the store is three stories high and covers 20,000 square feet, make sure to bring enough ink for your quill, because your shopping list will be long. Kori Williams, Seventeen, "The Biggest "Harry Potter" Store Ever Is Opening This Summer," 13 Jan. 2020 As the world seems to become louder, more clamorous and hotter, my need for a landscape that would get Robert Burns reaching for his quill grows greater. Adrian Higgins, chicagotribune.com, "Exploring the wild beauty of Scotland’s Western Isles," 18 Oct. 2019 But the quills harden within minutes, according to the zoo. Washington Post, "National Zoo’s baby porcupine has a sharp new name: Quilliam," 16 Dec. 2019 Potential danger: The potential choking hazard posed by the quills if children put them in their mouths. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Guns, slime and yetis: The 10 worst toys of 2019, according to consumer watchdog group," 20 Nov. 2019 Awl with a man Artists would have used the tool to poke holes, embroider, make baskets and for quill work. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "Peek at part of Eiteljorg's huge new Great Lakes art collection 2 years before it opens," 4 Sep. 2019 Learning Resources Spike the Hedgehog ($13.49; Amazon.com) The vivid quills on this quirky fellow are sized and shaped to be perfect for toddler hands to grasp. Christina Vercelletto, CNN Underscored, "20 gifts kids will want from the 2019 Amazon Toy List," 1 Nov. 2019 Also your quill pen, your manual typewriter and your floppy disk. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: How Pop-Up Magazine is bringing amped-up storytelling to San Diego," 17 Sep. 2019 The Portland Press Herald reports the animal appeared to be a baby because its quills had not yet hardened. USA TODAY, "Barbie, Tupac, scorpions and Red Vines: News from around our 50 states," 19 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While pens, pencils, and quills still work magic on a piece of paper, writing utensils for your bullet journal can be a pain to carry around. Billy Cadden, Popular Science, "Tech-enabled notebooks that are actually better than pen and paper," 31 Jan. 2020 Visitors can browse through more than 2,000 displays in other media, including decorative gourds, metal, wood, glass, jewelry, quilled greeting cards, handmade clothing and accessories. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Master class sculptors carve creative designs with sand and water," 29 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quill.' 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 quill


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quill


Middle English quil hollow reed, bobbin; akin to Middle High German kil large feather

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Time Traveler for quill

Time Traveler

The first known use of quill was in the 15th century

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Statistics for quill

Last Updated

30 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quill. Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for quill


How to pronounce quill (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of quill

: the hollow central part of a feather
: a large, stiff feather from the wing or tail of a bird
: a pen that is made from a feather


\ ˈkwil How to pronounce quill (audio) \

Kids Definition of quill

1 : a large stiff feather of a bird's wing or tail
2 : the hollow tubelike part of a feather
3 : a hollow sharp spine of a porcupine or hedgehog
4 : a pen made from a feather

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More from Merriam-Webster on quill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quill

Spanish Central: Translation of quill

Nglish: Translation of quill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quill for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about quill

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