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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for scrawled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Meanwhile the walls of Rome were scrawled over with satirical inscriptions.

    Darkness and Dawn Frederic W. Farrar
  • He handed to him a piece of paper on which he had scrawled his secret instructions.

    The Clansman Thomas Dixon
  • So let me talk, and think me foolish and reckless, and destroy this scrawled thing if you think best.

  • Carrie crossed the hall with rustling skirts, and scrawled the note, gloves on.

    Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
  • The boy was raised, and the pen being held in his almost nerveless fingers, he scrawled a cross.

    Grif B. L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
British Dictionary definitions for scrawled


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 scrawled



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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