from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The art of fine handwriting.
  • noun Works in fine handwriting considered as a group.
  • noun Handwriting.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The art of beautiful writing; fair or elegant writing or penmanship; by extension, handwriting in general; penmanship. Also spelled caligraphy, kalligraphy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Fair or elegant penmanship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The art of writing letters and words with decorative strokes.
  • noun The letters and words so produced, collectively.
  • noun The art of writing fancy lettering.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun beautiful handwriting


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French calligraphie, from Greek kalligraphiā, beautiful writing : kalli-, beautiful (from kallos, beauty) + -graphiā, -graphy.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek καλλιγραφία (kalligrafía, "pretty writing"), from κάλλος (kallos, "beauty") + γράφω (gráphō, "to draw").


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  • The art of beautiful handwriting.

    November 21, 2007

  • "19. The First Principle

    When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words 'The First Principle.' The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.

    When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which workmen made the larger carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticize his master's work.

    'That is not good,' he told Kosen after the first effort.

    'How is that one?'

    'Poor. Worse than before,' pronounced the pupil.

    Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.

    Then, when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: 'Now is my chance to escape his keen eye,' and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: 'The First Principle.'

    'A masterpiece,' pronounced the pupil."

    --Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps

    November 17, 2010