Pencil sharpener or sharpener?

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Roymalika

Senior Member
Punjabi
IMG_20200918_150601.jpg
Is this thing called a "pencil sharpener" or just "sharpener"?

The lockdown is over. My school has opened. My father's bought me five pencil sharpeners/sharpeners, five led pencils and five rubbers.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think I'd say just 'sharpeners' in a sentence like 'My father bought me five pencils, five sharpeners and five rubbers' as 'sharpeners' is close to 'pencils'. (I would wonder, though, why he bought me five sharpeners and five rubbers. One of each would be plenty :D )

    But in most other sentences.contexts, I'd call them 'pencil sharpeners.'
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks, but it is still a lead pencil, isn't it?
    Yes, but you almost certainly don't need to mention 'lead'. Just 'pencil' is fine. And if it's a 'coloured pencil' we would call it a 'coloured pencil', or some might call it a crayon.

    I won't mention 'propelling pencils' because they are pretty rare.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The word “lead” is the name for the writing part of a pencil, made of graphite. There’s no need to call a pencil a lead pencil unless you’re distinguishing it from a type of pencil that’s not meant for drawing/writing on paper, such as a styptic pencil or an eyebrow pencil.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    I think there are pencil skirts, and pencil moustaches, and make up pencils (?), but for writing/drawing purposes, pencils are typically lead pencils.
    I asked about whether a pencil is always a lead pencil because this thing is also called a "pencil" by some people in my country.
    IMG_20200918_190907.jpg

    The word “lead” is the name for the writing part of a pencil, made of graphite
    You mean "lead" is just a name, not the material. The material is graphite.
    Thanks.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Lead is the common name of the material even though it is not the metal/element lead.
    It's not completely unusual for two different things to have the same name.
    The mineral form of graphite used to be called "plumbago." The symbol for the element lead is Pb for plumbum. People who work on pipes are plumbers because pipes used to be made of the metal lead.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    You mean "lead" is just a name, not the material. The material is graphite.
    All pencils have a "lead" in ordinary (British) English, whether they are graphite pencils, coloured pencils, pastel, charcoal, watercolour or any other type of pencil. "Lead" is also used for the part that writes in a mechanical or propelling pencil.

    However a "lead pencil" (a term rarely used) is an ordinary graphite pencil, not a coloured pencil or any other form of pencil.

    The word "lead" is used because of the resemblance of natural graphite to lead ore (hence the name "plumbago", as Myridon says). A pencil lead doesn't contain any lead (as is well-known), but it does not necessarily contain any graphite either.
     
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