sten·cil | \ˈsten(t)-səl \

Definition of stencil 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an impervious material (such as a sheet of paper, thin wax, or woven fabric) perforated with lettering or a design through which a substance (such as ink, paint, or metallic powder) is forced onto a surface to be printed

2 : something (such as a pattern, design, or print) that is produced by means of a stencil

3 : a printing process that uses a stencil


stenciled or stencilled; stenciling or stencilling\ˈsten(t)-s(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of stencil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to mark or paint with a stencil

2 : to produce by stencil

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Other Words from stencil


stenciler or stenciller \ˈsten(t)-s(ə-)lər \ noun

Examples of stencil in a Sentence


The walls of the living room had a delicate vine stencil drawn on them.


We stenciled the room's walls.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

More stencils followed: A second mural reworked Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps on horseback. Annalisa Quinn, New York Times, "In Paris, Banksy Spreads a Trail of Graffiti, and Rumors," 26 June 2018 From there, a basic stencil — a skyline or the outline of a cartoon character — was applied using a silk screen and then the delicate work of airbrushing and embellishing could begin., "How Brutal Cult Leader Tony Alamo Amassed A Fortune With Bedazzled Denim Jackets," 29 June 2018 Police stopped a car identified by the resident who reported the fliers and found similar fliers inside, along with a swastika stencil, spray paint, and a bottle of alcohol, officials said. Laney Ruckstuhl,, "Man, 19, charged with hanging racist fliers and spray-painting swastikas in Westford," 26 June 2018 The whole thing came together for about $250, including three cans of paint ($105), four custom stencils ($100), and one can of matte poly sealer ($45). Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "This Woman Transformed Her Tile Floors With Stencils, and the Results are Amazing," 9 May 2017 One is the title text while the other features a black stencil of a boy and girl, walking hand in hand. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Prince Harry Gifted Meghan Markle a Super-Romantic Piece of Art," 8 July 2018 Earrings, keychains, sidewalk stencils, neon beer signs, temporary tattoos, T-shirts. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Gateway to what?," 28 June 2018 These motifs are printed on a single piece of paper using woodblocks and then hand-colored using stencils. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Baptism by Fire: How Antoinette Poisson Came to Create Textiles for Gucci’s Resort Collection," 20 June 2018 Use stencils to draw a fun design on the inside of an umbrella with fabric markers. Sarah Newell, Seventeen, "15 Amazing Prom Hacks To Make It Your Most Stylish Night Ever," 6 Jan. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The formal dining room has original wainscot and walls painted sky blue with a pattern of gold stenciled fleur-de-lis. Janet Eastman,, "Glory days return to gilded 1882 Italianate mansion built for Portland shoe merchant (photos)," 24 Apr. 2018 Created by rising British artist Van Donna (a pseudonym of Van Gogh and Madonna), the artwork is ¼ size of the original and feature a Banksy-style stenciled image of a boy and girl walking hand-in-hand into the distance. Phil Boucher,, "Now You Can Buy the Romantic Painting Prince Harry Secretly Gave Meghan Markle — for Under $300!," 5 July 2018 Artists such as Andy Warhol made silkscreen printmaking, which involves stenciling a design on paper, a popular method as well. Morgan Smith,, "Spudnik Press Cooperative hosts first annual Chicago Print Crawl this Sunday," 22 June 2018 There was a decoration of some kind of Asian bird, a crane stencilled cheaply over a body of water, and a Korean Air calendar. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, "The Luck of Kokura," 18 June 2018 Leaves of deciduous trees were fully unfolded, gorgeous neon green and not yet stenciled by insects. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "What it’s like to run circles for 24 hours around the land of no night," 9 June 2018 One of the first works to do so was Art for the Art World Surface Pattern (1976), a small, freestanding room wallpapered with photos of violence and destruction, over which is stenciled the phrase: not a performance. Jillian Steinhauer, The New Republic, "Adrian Piper’s art plays with identity and confronts defensiveness.," 30 May 2018 In the dining area, the table, stool, ceiling light, and chairs (each of which is stenciled with the name of a famous partyer) are by Christian Liaigre; the flooring is reclaimed oak. Peter Terzian, ELLE Decor, "House Tour: Ken Fulk Creates A Montana Guesthouse That's The Ultimate Winter Getaway," 17 Nov. 2016 The design can also be found stenciled in gold paint on the walls at Spinning J. Audrey Gorden, RedEye Chicago, "At Spinning J, you can have your pie and eat it too," 23 May 2017

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


1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stencil


probably ultimately from Middle English stanseld brightly ornamented, from Anglo-French estencelé spangled, past participle of estenceler to sparkle, from estencele spark, from Vulgar Latin *stincilla, alteration of Latin scintilla

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Statistics for stencil

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stencil

The first known use of stencil was in 1707

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More Definitions for stencil



English Language Learners Definition of stencil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of paper, metal, etc., that has a design, letter, etc., cut out of it

: a design or a print that is made with a stencil



English Language Learners Definition of stencil (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a design on something with a stencil : to use a stencil on (something)


sten·cil | \ˈsten-səl \

Kids Definition of stencil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a piece of material (as a sheet of paper or plastic) that has lettering or a design cut out and is used as a guide (as in painting or drawing)

2 : a pattern, design, or print produced with a stencil


stenciled or stencilled; stenciling or stencilling

Kids Definition of stencil (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to mark or paint with a stencil I stenciled a box with designs.

2 : to produce with a stencil Stencil the number on the paper.

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More from Merriam-Webster on stencil

See words that rhyme with stencil

Spanish Central: Translation of stencil

Nglish: Translation of stencil for Spanish Speakers

Comments on stencil

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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