STENCIL, a thin plate or sheet of metal, leather, paper or other material cut or pierced with a pattern or design; this is laid upon a surface and colour or ink is brushed or rubbed over it, thus leaving the ground colour of the surface imprinted with the design or pattern cut out. In ceramics the stencil is produced by coating the biscuit with a preparation which prevents the transfer-paper or enamelling from adhering to the surface at those parts where the original colour of the biscuit is to be preserved. According to Skeat (Etym. Diet., 1910) the word stands for an earlier stinsel, and is to be derived from Old French estinceller, to sparkle, to powder with stars, an old term in heraldry, from Latin scintilla, a spark. The same French word has given the English " tinsel," strips, disks or pieces of thin glittering metallic substances used for the decoration of fabrics, hence any gaudy, showy and pretentious material or substance.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)