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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 scrawling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The same kind of scrawling occurs often in the shade of Raffaelle.

  • Arranging them carefully, he scanned the scrawling writing on them.

  • No scrawling or scratching, or cross-hatching, or 'free' work of any sort.

    Ariadne Florentina John Ruskin
  • Yet now I have a hidden book, like the rest of the world, and I am scrawling in it to-day.

    The Return Of The Soul Robert S. Hichens
  • Some are scrawling and some are cramped; some are infantine and some foreign.

    Seeing and Hearing George W. E. Russell
  • And then the cheek of scrawling his silly name on a fellows door!

    On Your Mark! Ralph Henry Barbour
  • The writing was an unfamiliar hand, scrawling and hardly legible.

    Brave Old Salt Oliver Optic
British Dictionary definitions for scrawling


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 scrawling



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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