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See more synonyms for scribe on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of printing.
  2. a public clerk or writer, usually one having official status.
  3. Also called sopher, sofer. Judaism. one of the group of Palestinian scholars and teachers of Jewish law and tradition, active from the 5th century b.c. to the 1st century a.d., who transcribed, edited, and interpreted the Bible.
  4. a writer or author, especially a journalist.
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verb (used without object), scribed, scrib·ing.
  1. to act as a scribe; write.
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verb (used with object), scribed, scrib·ing.
  1. to write down.
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Origin of scribe1

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin scrība clerk, derivative of scrībere to write
Related formsscrib·al, adjectiveun·scrib·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for scribal

Historical Examples

  • Larum here seems to be tautological, perhaps a scribal error.

    Genesis A


  • In selfd 8, d is due to anticipation of the following word: in wid 10 d is scribal error for .

  • It is possible that the occurrence of Guthlaf as Garulf's father is simply a scribal error.


    R. W. Chambers

  • The symbol used after q as a scribal abbreviation in Latin has been represented by ȝ.

  • The symbol used after q or q̄ as a scribal abbreviation in Latin has been represented by ȝ.

British Dictionary definitions for scribal


  1. a person who copies documents, esp a person who made handwritten copies before the invention of printing
  2. a clerk or public copyist
  3. Old Testament a recognized scholar and teacher of the Jewish Law
  4. Judaism a man qualified to write certain documents in accordance with religious requirements
  5. an author or journalist: used humorously
  6. another name for scriber
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  1. to score a line on (a surface) with a pointed instrument, as in metalworking
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Derived Formsscribal, adjective

Word Origin

(in the senses: writer, etc) C14: from Latin scrība clerk, from scrībere to write; C17 (vb): perhaps from inscribe


  1. Augustin Eugène (oɡystɛ̃ øʒɛn). 1791–1861, French author or coauthor of over 350 vaudevilles, comedies, and libretti for light opera
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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 scribal



c.1200, "professional interpreter of the Jewish Law" (late 11c. as a surname), from Church Latin scriba "teacher of Jewish law," used in Vulgate to render Greek grammateus (corresponding to Hebrew sopher "writer, scholar"), special use of Latin scriba "keeper of accounts, secretary, writer," from past participle stem of scribere "to write;" see script (n.). Sense "one who writes, official or public writer" in English is from late 14c.

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"to write," mid-15c., from Latin scribere "to write" (see script (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper