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We call the following a pencil cutter.

pencil cutter

But what do we do with it? Do we cut the pencil? Cutting the pencil sounds odd to me, like it means actually we are cutting the pencil into pieces which is not something we do. So what do we do with it? EDIT- In case anybody is in doubt what I mean to ask, here is an image of the process I want to know about.

enter image description here

What is this process called?

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    We don't call it a pencil cutter, we call it a pencil sharpener and we use it to sharpen the pencil. – StoneyB Mar 17 '13 at 17:58
  • @StoneyB, thank you. I knew neither of the terms. A loose Google search pushed me towards taking pencil cutter as the right term. – Mistu4u Mar 17 '13 at 18:00
  • Actually my question was on the process of sharpening the pencil more than name of the device. So title should emphasise on the process. – Mistu4u Mar 18 '13 at 3:38
  • 1
    10 upvotes? The wikipedia entry for pencil (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pencil) answers this question (albeit somewhat obliquely) – mcalex Mar 18 '13 at 9:45
  • @snailplane, That is okay! – Mistu4u Mar 20 '13 at 16:38
27

We don't call it a pencil cutter, we call it a pencil sharpener and we use it to sharpen the pencil.

This, too, is a pencil sharpener:
enter image description here

This, however, is not a pencil sharpener but a pencil sanding block, used to put a finer point on the pencil:
enter image description here

  • 2
    So is a "word sanding block" used to put a finer point on an argument? – Jim Mar 17 '13 at 18:49
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    @Jim Yes, but the more usual term is writer. – StoneyB Mar 17 '13 at 18:50
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    @StoneyB- Nice :-) – Jim Mar 17 '13 at 18:51
2

This is a pencil sharpener, which is used to sharpen pencils. The black stuff in the middle of a pencil is called graphite.

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    Actually, the black stuff in the middle of a pencil is made of graphite, but is nonetheless usually called "lead". – Martha Mar 20 '13 at 23:24
1

Just to provide a little diversity, let me mention that in some variants of English, e.g. Irish English, people often talk about paring the pencil, and call the device a pencil paper. I am not sure how widespread this is, however.

(In fact, according to this link http://www.thejournal.ie/pencil-parer-sharener-topper-burning-question-1180841-Nov2013/ the term pencil topper is also popular in Ireland.)

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