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See more synonyms for writing on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act of a person or thing that writes.
  2. written form: to commit one's thoughts to writing.
  3. that which is written; characters or matter written with a pen or the like: His writing is illegible.
  4. such characters or matter with respect to style, kind, quality, etc.
  5. an inscription.
  6. a letter.
  7. any written or printed paper, as a document or deed.
  8. literary or musical style, form, quality, technique, etc.: Her writing is stilted.
  9. a literary composition or production.
  10. the profession of a writer: He turned to writing at an early age.
  11. the Writings, Hagiographa.
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  1. writing on the wall. handwriting(def 4).
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Origin of writing

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at write, -ing1
Related formsself-writ·ing, adjectiveun·writ·ing, adjective


verb (used with object), wrote or (Archaic) writ; writ·ten or (Archaic) writ; writ·ing.
  1. to trace or form (characters, letters, words, etc.) on the surface of some material, as with a pen, pencil, or other instrument or means; inscribe: Write your name on the board.
  2. to express or communicate in writing; give a written account of.
  3. to fill in the blank spaces of (a printed form) with writing: to write a check.
  4. to execute or produce by setting down words, figures, etc.: to write two copies of a letter.
  5. to compose and produce in words or characters duly set down: to write a letter to a friend.
  6. to produce as author or composer: to write a sonnet; to write a symphony.
  7. to trace significant characters on, or mark or cover with writing.
  8. to cause to be apparent or unmistakable: Honesty is written on his face.
  9. Computers. to transfer (information, data, programs, etc.) from storage to secondary storage or an output medium.
  10. Stock Exchange. to sell (options).
  11. to underwrite.
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verb (used without object), wrote or (Archaic) writ; writ·ten or (Archaic) writ; writ·ing.
  1. to trace or form characters, words, etc., with a pen, pencil, or other instrument or means, or as a pen or the like does: He writes with a pen.
  2. to write as a profession or occupation: She writes for the Daily Inquirer.
  3. to express ideas in writing.
  4. to write a letter or letters, or communicate by letter: Write if you get work.
  5. to compose or work as a writer or author.
  6. Computers. to write into a secondary storage device or output medium.
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Verb Phrases
  1. write down,
    1. to set down in writing; record; note.
    2. to direct one's writing to a less intelligent reader or audience: He writes down to the public.
  2. write in,
    1. to vote for (a candidate not listed on the ballot) by writing his or her name on the ballot.
    2. to include in or add to a text by writing: Do not write in corrections on the galley.
    3. to request something by mail: If interested, please write in for details.
  3. write off,
    1. to cancel an entry in an account, as an unpaid and uncollectable debt.
    2. to regard as worthless, lost, obsolete, etc.; decide to forget: to write off their bad experience.
    3. to amortize: The new equipment was written off in three years.
  4. write out,
    1. to put into writing.
    2. to write in full form; state completely.
    3. to exhaust the capacity or resources of by excessive writing: He's just another author who has written himself out.
  5. write up,
    1. to put into writing, especially in full detail: Write up a report.
    2. to present to public notice in a written description or account.
    3. Accounting.to make an excessive valuation of (an asset).
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Origin of write

before 900; Middle English writen, Old English wrītan; cognate with Old Saxon wrītan to cut, write, German reissen to tear, draw, Old Norse rīta to score, write
Related formsmis·write, verb (used with object), mis·wrote, mis·writ·ten, mis·writ·ing.
Can be confusedright rite wright write

Synonyms for write

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for writing

print, handwriting, script, calligraphy, essay, poem, literature, piece, publication, manuscript, novel, review, work, paper, theme, book, letter, prose, article, document

Examples from the Web for writing

Contemporary Examples of writing

Historical Examples of writing

  • "I told your father that this morning," and he resumed his writing.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • "This is my address," said the merchant, writing it in pencil, and handing it to Robert.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • They possessed a system of writing of their own which they thought vastly superior.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • All the systems of writing of the ancient people of Asia had one thing in common.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • He walked home with Hester Paine last evening from the writing school.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for writing


  1. a group of letters or symbols written or marked on a surface as a means of communicating ideas by making each symbol stand for an idea, concept, or thing, by using each symbol to represent a set of sounds grouped into syllables (syllabic writing), or by regarding each symbol as corresponding roughly or exactly to each of the sounds in the language (alphabetic writing)See also ideogram
  2. short for handwriting
  3. anything expressed in letters, esp a literary composition
  4. the work of a writer
  5. literary style, art, or practice
  6. written formgive it to me in writing
  7. (modifier) related to or used in writingwriting ink
  8. writing on the wall a sign or signs of approaching disaster
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Word Origin for writing

sense 8: allusion to Daniel 5:5


verb writes, writing, wrote or written
  1. to draw or mark (symbols, words, etc) on a surface, usually paper, with a pen, pencil, or other instrument
  2. to describe or record (ideas, experiences, etc) in writing
  3. to compose (a letter) to or correspond regularly with (a person, organization, etc)
  4. (tr; may take a clause as object) to say or communicate by letterhe wrote that he was on his way
  5. (tr) informal, mainly US and Canadian to send a letter to (a person, etc)
  6. to write (words) in cursive as opposed to printed style
  7. (tr) to be sufficiently familiar with (a specified style, language, etc) to use it in writing
  8. to be the author or composer of (books, music, etc)
  9. (tr) to fill in the details for (a document, form, etc)
  10. (tr) to draw up or draft
  11. (tr) to produce by writinghe wrote ten pages
  12. (tr) to show clearlyenvy was written all over his face
  13. (tr) to spell, inscribe, or entitle
  14. (tr) to ordain or prophesyit is written
  15. (tr) to sit (an examination)
  16. (intr) to produce writing as specified
  17. computing to record (data) in a location in a storage deviceCompare read 1 (def. 16)
  18. (tr) Compare underwrite (def. 3a)
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Derived Formswritable, adjective

Word Origin for write

Old English wrītan (originally: to scratch runes into bark); related to Old Frisian wrīta, Old Norse rīta, Old High German rīzan (German reissen to tear)
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 writing


"system of human intercommunication by means of conventional visible marks," c.1300, "written characters; words, sentences," verbal noun from write (v.). From late 14c. as "action of composing in characters; craft of writing; one's own handwriting."

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Old English writan "to score, outline, draw the figure of," later "to set down in writing" (class I strong verb; past tense wrat, past participle writen), from Proto-Germanic *writanan "tear, scratch" (cf. Old Frisian writa "to write," Old Saxon writan "to tear, scratch, write," Old Norse rita "write, scratch, outline," Old High German rizan "to write, scratch, tear," German reißen "to tear, pull, tug, sketch, draw, design"), outside connections doubtful. Words for "write" in most I.E languages originally mean "carve, scratch, cut" (cf. Latin scribere, Greek grapho, Sanskrit rikh-); a few originally meant "paint" (cf. Gothic meljan, Old Church Slavonic pisati, and most of the modern Slavic cognates).

For men use to write an evill turne in marble stone, but a good turne in the dust. [More, 1513]

To write (something) off (1680s) originally was from accounting; figurative sense is recorded from 1889. Write-in "unlisted candidate" is recorded from 1932.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with writing


In addition to the idioms beginning with write

  • write down
  • write in
  • write off
  • write one's own ticket
  • write out
  • write up

also see:

  • nothing to write home about

Also see underwrote.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.