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[skrawl] /skrɔl/
verb (used with object)
to write or draw in a sprawling, awkward manner:
He scrawled his name hastily across the blackboard.
verb (used without object)
to write awkwardly, carelessly, or illegibly.
awkward, careless, or illegible handwriting.
something scrawled, as a letter or a note.
Origin of scrawl
late Middle English
1605-15; perhaps to be identified with late Middle English scraule to sprawl, crawl (blend of sprawl and crawl1)
Related forms
unscrawled, adjective
unscrawling, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scrawl
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That's Joe's own scrawl, and there ain't a worse from this to himself.

    A Day's Ride Charles James Lever
  • The senator's son read the scrawl, and his face showed his disgust.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp Edward Stratemeyer
  • Then, at last, he had gathered strength enough to scrawl these lines.


    Stephen French Whitman
  • He preferred to scrawl his initials to any typewritten letter which I prepared.

    The Minister of Evil William Le Queux
  • You must not mind the badness of my scrawl: and let me hear from you.

    Memoirs of the Courts and Cabinets of George the Third The Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
  • My fear is that you will not be able to decipher the scrawl written so hastily.

    Behind the Scenes Elizabeth Keckley
  • She had evidently never speculated on the meaning of the scrawl that had saved her.

    Coming Home Edith Wharton
  • I do not know whether you can read the scrawl I have written, but I cannot write any better.

    The Story of My Life Egerton Ryerson
British Dictionary definitions for scrawl


to write or draw (signs, words, etc) carelessly or hastily; scribble
careless or scribbled writing, drawing, or marks
Derived Forms
scrawler, noun
scrawly, adjective
Word Origin
C17: perhaps a blend of sprawl and crawl1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scrawl

1610s, "write or draw untidily," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Middle English scrawlen "spread out the limbs, sprawl" (early 15c.), which possibly is an alteration of sprawlen (see sprawl (v.)) or crawl (v.). Related: Scrawled; scrawling. The noun is recorded from 1690s, from the verb. Meaning "bad handwriting" is from 1710.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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