Without pens and ink, communication in any language  would be significantly limited – in modern times for sure, but even more so in past centuries. This week our word of the week is 笔 – ‘pen’. 


笔 is pronounced bǐ.


The character 笔 (bǐ) was first seen in the Oracle bone script during the Shang Dynasty. Its meaning is pen or Chinese brush.

This traditional form of the character 笔(bǐ) is “筆”, which is a combination of two characters: the character 聿(yù), which represents a hand grasping a thin, vertical writing brush, combined with an abbreviated form of the character 竹 (zhú), “bamboo,” from which calligraphic brushes were made in ancient China.


一笔勾销 (yì bǐ gōu xiāo)

Literally: to write off in one stroke. Meaning: all canceled.

下笔如神 (xià bǐ rú shén)

Literally: Write like an angel. Meaning: Write quickly and powerfully.

铅笔(qiān bǐ)

Meaning: pencil.

钢笔(gāng bǐ )

Meaning: fountain pen.

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