O.N. hrifa "scratch"), from base *sker- "cut, incise" (cf. O.E. sceran "cut off, shear;" see shear
) on the notion of carving marks in stone, wood, etc. Meaning "handwriting" is recorded from 1860. Theatrical use, short for manuscript, is attested from 1897. The importance of Rome to the spread of civilization in Europe is attested by the fact that the word for "write" in Romance, Celtic and Gmc. languages derives from scribere (e.g. Fr. écrire, Ir. scriobhaim, Welsh ysgrifennu, Ger. schreiben), but the cognate O.E. scrifan means "to allot, assign, decree" (see shrive
; also cf. O.N. skript "penance") and Mod.Eng. uses write
(q.v.) to express this action.