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

Transfer royal icing to piping bag fitted with size 2 tip and use stencil as a guide to pipe snowflakes on top. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Double White Chocolate Cake," 29 Nov. 2018 The wedding cakes were individual tarte Tropéziennes and, following the wabi-sabi theme, were customized with each guest’s name in different colors (the stencils were hand-designed by Jean-Baptiste who also created the place settings). Vogue, "Stylist Lolita Jacobs’s Effortlessly Chic Wedding in the South of France," 26 July 2018 Once cooled, use our printable stencils to cut out doors, shutters, trailer fin, wheels, antler mount, and other smaller pieces. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Build the Ultimate Rustic Gingerbread House With These Easy-to-Follow Stencils," 14 Nov. 2018 This journal is packed with tons of features, like bullet stencils, conversion charts, and a pen holder. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Best Notebooks to Help You Crush Your Classes This Semester," 5 Sep. 2018 To create the mini rainbows, Hunt randomly taped off rectangular sections on her client's hair to create stencils. Devon Abelman, Allure, "This Colorist Covered Her Client's Hair in Rainbow Prisms, and It Looks Mesmerizingly Beautiful," 21 Mar. 2018 There even is a stencil class based on the works of Banksy. Anne Kadet, WSJ, "Bagpipes or Urdu? After-School Options Multiply," 23 Oct. 2018 Place the star stencil just below the middle of the bodice and lightly brush black paint around the edges. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "How to Make a Moana Costume for Halloween," 1 Aug. 2018 Use adhesive stencils and ceramic paint pens to create geometric designs on the plates. Erin Francois, House Beautiful, "Blogger Sneak Peek: Hand-Painted Blue & White Plates," 3 Feb. 2015

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For Rei Kawakubo, another Japanese designer, traditional kimono fabric techniques like dyeing and stenciling are sources of inspiration—particularly shibori, a tie-dye method in which small sections of cloth are wrapped in thread. Susan Delson, WSJ, "Kimonos Meet Couture," 12 Oct. 2018 Howells began his adventures in design stenciling the floors of the Laura Ashley boutique in the early 1980s, then at the nexus of boho London aristo society. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Remembers Michael Howells," 19 July 2018 True, Wojnarowicz’s formal means — stenciling, spray painting, collaging — are anti-academic. New York Times, "He Spoke Out During the AIDS Crisis. See Why His Art Still Matters.," 12 July 2018 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

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

6 Jan 2019

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

Rhyming Dictionary: 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).


a complex dispute or argument

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