I'm looking for a term (ideally a single word) that could be used to describe tools used to draw/write/erase. I'm trying to avoid single words like "tool" or "implement", which don't conjure up the correct image without context.

My first thought was "writing implement", but that presumes that the implement is used for modifying text rather than any drawn marking. Also, I'm not sure it quite works for an eraser.

Edit to provide some context. I'm looking for a term to use as a title for a tab in a piece of software. For example, you might select this tab and see a list of pens/pencils/erasers. The term "pencil case" (as suggested by JAM) unfortunately doesn't work in this context, as the tools wouldn't necessarily all be stored in the same pencil case.

Perhaps another way to think of it would be to imagine going into a stationery shop (a strange, hypothetical stationery shop) and looking at the shelves that contain only pens, pencils and erasers.

I might be being a little ambitious with this one! I don't mind if no such term exists, but I'm trying to avoid a tab titled something like "Pens/Pencils/Erasers".

closed as too localized by Matt E. Эллен, JLG, Mark Beadles, Daniel, tchrist Nov 13 '12 at 20:55

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    It's easy to come up with a collective term (eg, 'office supplies'), but it's likely to be too inclusive unless we know what items you're trying to keep out of the group as well. – Joe Nov 13 '12 at 15:01
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    If I were in your position, I'd probably go with "tools". Simple words are clearer to everyone, both native and non-native. (I assume that your software is going to sell worldwide.) – Damkerng T. Nov 13 '12 at 15:06
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    Pedantically, 'pencil case' is not technically a hypernym of those objects. It is a physical -container- of those objects, but is not a more genral descriptor, a super-class. A pencil is not a specific kind of pencil case. 'Pencil case' may still be an appropriate tab-label, but then it's a label for the container. – Mitch Nov 13 '12 at 15:10
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    Writing utensils - these usually include accessories - erasers, sharpeners, rulers etc. – SF. Nov 13 '12 at 15:18
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    I'm not sure what you mean when you say that "pencil case" doesn't work. You say you're looking for a label to put on a tab. If you take JAM's suggestion, this tab IS the pencil case, and so by definition all the tools that are on the tab are "in the same pencil case". – Jay Nov 13 '12 at 15:43

I suggest graphic tools, graphic items, or graphic paraphernalia.

Paraphernalia refers to "Miscellaneous items, especially the set of equipment required for a particular activity".

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    I like "graphic tools" – JAM Nov 14 '12 at 0:36

I'd probably say "Drawing tools". Maybe "Writing utensils" or "Drawing implements" or some variation on that.

Personally I wouldn't think of an eraser as technically a "drawing implement" or fitting under various other terms that someone might suggest. But for a label on a tab, it doesn't have to be 100% accurate. Labels normally have to be short to fit in the available space, and so unless you're lucky and there just happens to be a short, common word that exactly expresses the meaning you need, you have to "approximate" somewhat.

  • I agree with your advice, thanks. If nothing more suitable presents itself then I'll probably end up going with "Writing Tools" or "Drawing Tools", as a reasonable compromise between length and accuracy. – Stuart Nov 13 '12 at 16:31

If you're looking for a title tab in a piece of software, how about "pencil case"? That's where you keep your pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, etc.

  • Pencil case works in some situations (in fact, I already use the term in other places), however it's not quite what I'm after. I'll edit my question to provide a bit more context. – Stuart Nov 13 '12 at 14:39

If you don't mind a humorous reference to nerd culture, you might consider pocket protector.

From Wikipedia:

A pocket protector is a sheath designed to hold writing instruments and other small implements, while preventing them from damaging the wearer's shirt pocket (e.g., by tearing or staining by a leaky pen). The pocket protector is designed to fit neatly inside the breast pocket of a shirt, and may accommodate pens, pencils, screwdrivers, small slide rules, and various other small items.

The accessory has become part of a "nerd" or "geek" fashion stereotype, probably because of its association with engineers or students.

enter image description here

It's probably not an ideal word, but I can't think of anything more suitable for your purposes than the already-shelved writing implements.


It would be helpful to know the other tab names. Failing that I suggest markers. I assume that you will only have one eraser or otherwise a selection of shaped erasers, which would fit in the tab by exception (it's ok to have a handy eraser amongst many markers) or for the shaped erasers they really become used as a marker. In fact an eraser is used by artists mostly to create specific marks, usually highlights, instead of being a tool merely for corrections.

  • I quite like this, but I think that "markers" sounds a bit too much like a marker pen, particularly as the tools already include different pen types. – Stuart Nov 13 '12 at 16:15

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