• Shakspeare, quill pen in hand, stands next to a table
    Shakspeare, quill pen in hand, stands next to a table
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n quill a stiff hollow protective spine on a porcupine or hedgehog
    • n quill the hollow spine of a feather
    • n quill any of the larger wing or tail feathers of a bird
    • n quill pen made from a bird's feather
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The quills of a porcupine are soft when they are born
    • Quill A hollow spindle.
    • Quill A pen for writing made by sharpening and splitting the point or nib of the stock of a feather; as, history is the proper subject of his quill .
    • Quill (Pharm) A roll of dried bark; as, a quill of cinnamon or of cinchona.
    • Quill A spindle, or spool, as of reed or wood, upon which the thread for the woof is wound in a shuttle.
    • Quill (Zoöl) A spine of the hedgehog or porcupine.
    • Quill One of the large feathers of a bird's wing, or one of the rectrices of the tail; also, the stock of such a feather.
    • Quill Something having the form of a quill
    • Quill The fold or plain of a ruff.
    • Quill (Zoöl) The pen of a squid. See Pen.
    • Quill (Mus) The plectrum with which musicians strike the strings of certain instruments.
    • Quill (Mus) The tube of a musical instrument.
    • Quill To plaint in small cylindrical ridges, called quillings; as, to quill a ruffle. "His cravat seemed quilled into a ruff."
    • Quill To wind on a quill, as thread or yarn.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Early Romans used to use porcupine quills as toothpicks
    • n quill The stalk of a cane or reed.
    • n quill A cane or reed pipe, such as those used in Pan's pipes.
    • n quill One of the large, strong feathers of geese, swans, turkeys, crows, etc., used for writing-pens and the like.
    • n quill A quill pen; hence, by extension, any pen, especially considered as the characteristic instrument of a writer.
    • n quill One of the comparatively large flight-feathers or remiges of any bird, without reference to the use of such feathers for making quill pens; a quill-feather: as, the quills and coverts of the wing; sometimes extended to include the similar feathers of the tail.
    • n quill The hard, hollow, horny part of the scape of any feather, which does not bear barbs, and by which the feather is inserted in the skin; the calamus, as distinguished from the rachis.
    • n quill One of the much enlarged and peculiarly modified hairs with which some animals, as porcupines, are provided; a large hollow spine.
    • n quill A piece of small reed or other light slender tube, used by weavers to wind thread upon, and by manufacturers to hold the wound silk and other thread prepared for sale.
    • n quill A plectrum of quill, as of a goose, for playing on musical instruments of the lute and zither families.
    • n quill In the harpsichord, spinet, and virginal, a small piece of quill projecting from the jack of each key (digital), and so set that when the key was depressed the corresponding string was twitched or twanged by it. Various other materials were used instead of quills.
    • n quill In seal-engraving, the hollow shaft or mandril of the seal-engravers' lathe, in which the cutting-tools are secured to be revolved while the stones are held against them.
    • n quill In mining, a train for igniting a blast, consisting of a quill filled with slow-burning powder: it is now superseded by the safety-fuse.
    • n quill The faucet of a barrel.
    • n quill In pharmacy, bark in a roll, such as is often formed in drying, as of cinnamon or cinchona.
    • quill To pluck out quills from.
    • quill To tap, as a barrel of liquor.
    • quill To wind thread or yarn on quills for the loom.
    • n quill A fold of a plaited or fluted ruff or ruffle.
    • quill To flute; form with small rounded ridges.
    • n quill In machinery, a hollow shaft: a cylinder; a pipe; specifically, in a turbine, the hollow shaft which carries the revolving blades or blade-wheels.
    • quill To insert or adjust the quills of (a harpsichord or spiuet).
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: When a porcupine is born, its quills are soft and mostly white, but harden within hours
    • n Quill kwil a fold of a plaited or fluted ruff
    • v.t Quill to flute: form with rounded ridges
    • n Quill kwil a reed-pen: the feather of a goose or other bird used as a pen, hence a pen generally: the profession of letters: anything like a quill: the hollow basal stem of a feather: one of the large hollow sharp spines (modified hairs) of the hedgehog, porcupine, &c.: the reed on which weavers wind their thread: the instrument for striking the strings of certain instruments: the tube of a musical instrument: the hollow shaft or mandril of the seal-engraver's lathe: a train for igniting a blast: bark in a cylindrical roll
    • v.t Quill to plait with small ridges like quills: to wind on a quill: to pluck out quills from
    • ***


  • Herman Melville
    “Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius crater for an inkstand!”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Perhaps fr. F. quille, ninepin (see Kayless); but cf. also G. kiel, a quill. MHG. kil, and Ir. cuille, a quill


In literature:

I have tried metal holders, but I much prefer the simple quill, on account of its elasticity and lightness.
"The Art of Travel" by Francis Galton
His leggings and moccasins were richly embroidered with porcupine quills.
"Timid Hare" by Mary Hazelton Wade
He wiped his horn spectacles, and produced his own ink and quill and memorandum from a breast pocket.
"Lazarre" by Mary Hartwell Catherwood
But I'm glad you happened to come along, and that you stuck your stickery-ickery quills into the bear's nose.
"Uncle Wiggily's Travels" by Howard R. Garis
Is it thy own, or hast it from Snow-hill, Assisted by some ballad-making quill?
"English Satires" by Various
Strickland at his own desk dipped quill into ink-well and continued a letter to a friend in England.
"Foes" by Mary Johnston
In the harpsichord the strings were set in vibration by points of quill or hard leather.
"Great Violinists And Pianists" by George T. Ferris
And, of all pens, your quill for essays that are literature.
"Certain Personal Matters" by H. G. Wells
There were quills and an ink-pot at hand, but no paper.
"The Master of Appleby" by Francis Lynde
About her head a band of tan, and a white quill.
"Patriotic Plays and Pageants for Young People" by Constance D'Arcy Mackay

In poetry:

Show your quick, alarming skill in
Tidy mockeries of art;
Never, never dip your quill in
Ink that rushes from your heart.
"For A Lady Who Must Write Verse" by Dorothy Parker
Thy symbol be the mountain-bird,
Whose glistening quill I hold;
Thy home the ample air of hope,
And memory's sunset gold!
"On Receiving An Eagle's Quill From Lake Superior" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Then blessings on thy eagle quill,
As, wandering far and wide,
I thank thee for this twilight dream
And Fancy's airy ride!
"On Receiving An Eagle's Quill From Lake Superior" by John Greenleaf Whittier
I will not ask you to sit still;
You shall be naughty when you will;
Shall spill my ink and spoil my quill,
And squander all my morning.
"Dead!" by Alfred Austin
And so 'twill be when I'm aground
These yearly duns will still go round,
While other bards, with frantic quills,
Shall damn and damn these annual bills!
"Those Annual Bills" by Mark Twain
I. THE quill that now traces the thought of my heart,
And speeds the soft wand'rer to thine,
From the pinion of love, by thy hand's erring dart,
Was sever'd, and then became mine.
"The Swan Quill" by Sydney Owenson

In news:

Vets were able to surgically remove all of the quills and the dog is recovering.
The attack left Bella Mae spiked with more than 500 quills.
Bella Mae had around 500 quills in her face and body.
Quill makes reordering easier for the office managers it caters to.
Mitchell honored with Yankee Quill .
Fries and Ravioli at Quill .
It was the $2 fries that drew me to Quill .
Timothy Quill is Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.
Inside the recently renovated Jefferson hotel, Quill is a series of small rooms.
Interview with Norma Quill Fisher.
Angiotech Launches Quill SRS MONODERM for Wound Closure.
Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc recently launched marketing of its Quill SRS MONODERM for superficial wound closure.
"Our name is High Risk, and it consists of myself and a newcomer to the music scene, Jenn Norris," Quill writes.
New play about De Quille premieres in April.
William Metzo (right) in Quills, a 1999 production by one of Dougherty's favorite groups, Florida Stage.