\ 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 The designs include a depiction of Angelou with a bird cage in one hand and a blackbird in another, a dove landing on an open book, as well as an ink quill fashioned to look like a bird. Isabella Meneses, ABC News, 8 May 2021 Among the artifacts found on the ship were bowls, spoons, a wooden backgammon game, musical instruments, leather book covers and quill pens and ink pots, offering a glimpse into life and leisure on the ship. NBC News, 5 May 2021 Or follow Carrie Bradshaw’s lead and dawn a feathery headpiece with your wedding dress—Emilio Pucci just released a sweet quill headband that’s guaranteed to be a showstopper. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, 29 Mar. 2021 So, the feather, which looks like a quill, is a sign that Penelope is the writer all along. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, 22 Feb. 2021 Nevertheless, horses were stolen, and poor people were hanged for stealing them – or a quill pen or a bolt of cloth. David P. Barash, The Conversation, 12 Jan. 2021 Frustrated with a capricious sovereign and forced (on principle) to take a life-altering stand, Thomas Jefferson’s quill scribbled furiously. Tod Worner, National Review, 25 Oct. 2020 Even the cover image of a boy with a quill across his face adds to the ambiguity. Diane Scharper, National Review, 20 Aug. 2020 Simple hairy filaments coat much of the body, larger veined feathers stick out from the tail, and big quill-pen-feathers line the arms, layered over each other to form a wing. Stephen Brusatte, Scientific American, 17 July 2015 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Visitors can view a variety of media including textiles—such as Navajo artist D.Y. Begay’s Southwest landscape painting on wool—beadwork, sculpture, photography, film and even clothing attire such as beaded and quilled Louboutin shoes. Lily Katzman, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Apr. 2020 For six weeks last summer the DC-8 and a pair of Twin Otters similarly quilled with atmospheric-sampling instruments flew through more than 100 different columns. Kyle Dickman, Scientific American, 1 Mar. 2020 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, 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, 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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Quill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quill. Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for quill



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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