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English Wikipedia has an article on:
stencil template (sense 1)
stencil graffiti (sense 2)


Likely a nominalization of Middle English stencellen (to garnish with bright hues), borrowed from Middle French estinceller (to glisten), from Old French estenceler (to spark), from Old French estencele (spark), from Vulgar Latin *stincilla, from metathesis of Latin scintilla (spark).

The verb is from the noun.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈstɛnsɪl/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈstɛnsəl/
  • Rhymes: -ɛnsəl


stencil (plural stencils)

  1. A thin sheet, either perforated or using some other technique, with which a pattern may be produced upon a surface; a utensil that contains a perforated sheet.
    • 2015, Margaret Peot, Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fashion, Art and Home[1], Penguin, →ISBN:
      You do not necessarily need to have a stencil brush to paint over a stencil.
  2. A pattern produced using such a utensil.
    • 2016 July 11, Calla Wahlquist, “Banksy stencils destroyed by construction workers in Melbourne”, in The Guardian[2]:
      In 2013 a damaged stencil of a rat and an image of a girl hugging a bomb were painted over on the walls of a Fitzroy church by the building owner’s father-in-law, who tried to help out by painting the building while house sitting. He did not know the significance of the stencils.
  3. A two-ply master sheet for use with a mimeograph.

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stencil (third-person singular simple present stencils, present participle (UK) stencilling or (US) stenciling, simple past and past participle (UK) stencilled or (US) stenciled)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To print with a stencil.
    • 2015, William Addison Dwiggins, edited by Dorothy Abbe, Stencilled Ornament and Illustration, Chronicle Books, →ISBN, page 53:
      Stencilled letters were used for words and phrases, as well as for captions for some of his stencil “prints,” print being used in the sense of a multicolor woodcut.


Further reading[edit]