Female Swan

Subject: Female Swan
From: Scouler <>
Date: Tue, 08 Apr 2003 22:51:32 +1100
Hello Peter,

Its fascinating, but it's not correct.

I've looked at a couple of dictionaries, and it seems that "pen" meaning a writing instrument is derived from the  Old French "penne", "pene" or "paine", from the Latin "penna" meaning feathers. "Pen" in the sense of a female swan is of quite different, and unknown, origin. The etymology of "cob", a male swan, is equally mysterious.

Colin Scouler.


Hmm...i found this fascinating peice of information on the topic:

Flight feathers from the female swan were used as writing implements
then known as 'pen quills' and later as 'quill pens', until the 'quill' was
left out and only the word 'pen' remained. So our present-day ballpoints
etc. take their name from the female swan!


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