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Is a Pencil a Writing “Utensil” or “Instrument”?

Yesterday, I went out to dinner with my family. My daughter wanted to play Mad Libs while we waited for our food. I asked her, “Do you have a writing utensil?” She said she did.

Then my wife asked me, “Isn’t it a writing instrument?”

I had to pause. I knew a pencil was an instrument with which to write. Yet I had always said “writing utensil.”

I knew a fork, knife and spoon were eating utensils as well as instruments with which to eat. But I’ve never heard anyone call a fork an instrument. A guitar is a musical instrument, but I have never heard someone call it a utensil.

So I looked up utensil in my dictionary. The definition: “an implement, instrument, or vessel used in a household and esp. a kitchen.” (italics added)

Then I looked up utensil in my thesaurus. One of the synonyms: instrument.

So, take your pick. A pencil is both. A guitar is not.

Until next time! Use the right words!


April 16, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. What if you use your guitar in the kitchen? 😉


    Comment by Jackie | April 17, 2012 | Reply

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