[ 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

1605–15; perhaps to be identified with late Middle English scraule to sprawl, crawl (blend of sprawl and crawl1)
Related formsun·scrawled, adjectiveun·scrawl·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scrawl

British Dictionary definitions for scrawl


/ (skrɔːl) /


to write or draw (signs, words, etc) carelessly or hastily; scribble


careless or scribbled writing, drawing, or marks
Derived Formsscrawler, nounscrawly, adjective

Word Origin for scrawl

C17: perhaps a blend of sprawl and crawl 1
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

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