Pen is a small enclosure for domestic Animals as cows, sheep, swine, or poultry. It was used in 1958 SHAKS, Mary W. III.IV 41 Tel...How my Father stole two Geese out of a Pen. It can also be used to mean a number of animals in a pen, or sufficient to fill a pen. A division in a sheep-shearing shed or the work associated with it is also called a pen, especially in Australia, as used in 1900 H. LAWSON Versus, Pop, & Humorous 168, The shearers squint along the pens, they squint along the ‘shoots’. It can also be applied to mean certain enclosures with resemblance to these, as used in the 17th century 1620 FLETCHER & MASSINGER Double Marriage v.i, He’s taken to the tower’s strength..We have him in a pen, he cannot ‘scape us. (Oxford English Dictionary ,5)
In the West Indies, a pen is a farm, plantation, country house or park (often spelt penn) 1844 MRS. HOUSTON Yacht Voy. Texas 1. 92 The pens, or villas of the rich inhabitants, who go there occasionally to enjoy health or coolness. A prison or a cell in a prison can be referred to as a pen as quoted in 1845 W.G. SIMMS Wigwam & Cabin (1846) 2nd Ser. 93 Laughter..ceased on my part, as I got in sight of the ‘pen’ in which I was to be kept secure. A pen as used in 1917 W.S. CHURCHLL Second World War (1949) II.I.xii 216 A..habour..with regular pens for the destroyers and submarines, is a covered dock forming a berth for a naval vessel, especially for a submarine. The word is also used in combination with others like pen-branded (of an animal) which means branded with a mark to denoting the particular pen to which it belongs.
In the 12th century, a pen was used to mean a feather, plume or quill. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 63 The raven wyll not gyve her blacke pennes for the pecocks paynted fethers. The word developed to mean the rigid petiole or midrib of a leaf, and later to mean a writing tool, and derived senses. A quill-feather or part of one, with the quill or barrel pointed and split into two nibs at its lower end, so as to form an instrument for writing with ink, hence in modern use, a small instrument made of steel, gold or other metal, pointed and split like the lower end of a quill-pen and used, when fitted into a pen-holder, for writing with ink or other fluid. The writing part is often distinguished as pen-nib. In the chief current sense, any instrument adapted for writing with fluid ink is known as a pen. c 1678 MARY HATTON in H. Corr. (Camden) I.169 It comes in my mind to aske you if you have, in England, stel penns; because, if you have not, I will enndeavor to gett you some [in France]. (Oxford English Dictionary ,169)
Pen is a word that originally meant ‘head’, common in place names in Cornwall, Wales and some parts of Britain, as Penzance, Penrith; in certain cases especially south of Scotland, it is used as a detached word in hill names, e.g. Ettrick Pen, Lee pen etc. In US, it is used as an abbreviation for PENITENTIARY with allusion to PEN 2 c (from which some early uses are indistinguishable). 1967 punch 22 Nov. 796/2 Semple makes a pass at Carole, is rebuffed, strangles her in a demented fit, and does eighteen years in the pen for it. Pen can refer to enclosing so as to prevent from escaping; to shut in, shut up, confine. 1593 SHAKS, Lucr. 681 For with the nightlie linen..He pens her piteous clamors in her head. Though now rare, pen was used to mean to confine water in a river or canal by means of a weir, dam, or the like, so as to form a head of water; to dam up. (Dictionary, Oxford English ,681)
In modern times, pen is used to mean to write down with a pen; to put into writing, set down in writing; to compose and write or to indicate. To write of or about, to set forth or describe in writing can be referred to as pen, as used in 1659 PEARSON Creed i. (1839) 95 Moses, who first penned the origin of humanity.