Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pencil n.


1. [1930s] (US prison) a revolver.

2. [1930s+] the penis, usu. that of a small boy; thus [1940s] pencil and tassel, a small boy’s penis and testes.

In compounds

pencil dick (n.)

see separate entry.

pencil prick (n.) [prick n. (1)]

1. [1970s] a term of abuse.

2. a small penis, thus its possessor.

pencil sharpener (n.)

[1990s+] (UK juv.) the vagina.

pencil-slinger (n.)

[mid-19C] a writer.

pencil-squeezer (n.)

[1980s] a masturbator.

pencil-whipping (n.)

[2000s] (US) a general term of abuse, the implication is of masturbation.

In phrases

black pencil (n.)

[1970s] a black man’s penis.

have lead in one’s pencil (v.) [1920s+] (orig. US)

1. to be potent.

2. to have an erection.

3. in fig. use, to feel emotionally/physically strong.

have no lead in one’s pencil (v.)

[1920s+] to be impotent.

put lead in one’s pencil (v.) (also put lead in one’s pistol)

[1920s+] (orig. Aus.) to cheer one up, to strengthen, esp. in a sexual context; thus this will put lead in your pencil/here’s lead in your pencil, a toast used to accompany the offer of a drink, food or even drug – any of which is cited as a presumed adjunct to potency.

sharpen one’s pencil (v.)

[1990s+] (UK juv.) to have sexual intercourse.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

penciller (n.)

1. [mid–late 19C] a bookmaker’s clerk.

2. [late 19C+] (Aus.) a bookmaker or their clerk.

In compounds

pencil geek (n.) [geek n.1 (4)]

1. [1970s+] (US campus) anyone who works more devotedly than their peers see fit.

2. a clerk or similar.

pencil head

see separate entries.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

pencil-whip (v.)

1. [1960s+] (US) to falsify a report.

2. [1990s+] (US) to criticize severely.

3. [1990s+] (US prison) of a guard, to give a written reprimand.

4. [1990s+] (US prison, also paper whip) of a prisoner, to file a lawsuit or a grievance.