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

  • transitive v. To write hastily or illegibly.
  • intransitive v. To write in a sprawling, irregular manner.
  • n. Irregular, often illegible handwriting.
  • n. Something, such as a note, written hastily or illegibly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An Irregular, possibly illegible handwriting.
  • n. A hastily, or carelessly written note etc.
  • v. To write something hastily or illegibly.
  • v. To write in an irregular or illegible manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Unskillful or inelegant writing; that which is unskillfully or inelegantly written.
  • intransitive v. See crawl.
  • intransitive v. To write unskillfully and inelegantly.
  • transitive v. To draw or mark awkwardly and irregularly; to write hastily and carelessly; to scratch; to scribble.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To creep; crawl; by extension, to swarm with crawling things.
  • To draw or mark awkwardly and irregularly with a pen, pencil, or other marking implement; write awkwardly, hastily, or carelessly; scribble: as, to scrawl a letter; also, to make irregular lines or bad writing on: as, to scrawl a piece of paper.
  • To mark with irregular wandering or zigzag lines: as, eggs scrawled with black (natural marking).
  • To write unskilfully and inelegantly.
  • n. The young of the dog-crab.
  • n. A trawl.
  • n. A piece of unskilful or inelegant writing; also, a piece of hasty, bad writing.
  • n. A ragged, broken branch of a tree; brushwood.
  • n. In law, same as scroll-seal.

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

  • n. poor handwriting
  • v. write carelessly


Perhaps from obsolete scrawl, to gesticulate, sprawl, from Middle English scrawlen, probably blend of sprawlen, to sprawl; see sprawl and craulen, to crawl; see crawl1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly Middle English (Wiktionary)



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  • Of course his handwriting is on the scrawl. He is a doctor.

    June 18, 2007