"to score, outline, draw the figure of," later "to set down in writing" (class I strong verb; past tense wrat
, pp. writen
), from P.Gmc. *writanan
"tear, scratch" (cf. O.Fris. writa
"to write," O.S. writan
"to tear, scratch, write," O.N. rita
"write, scratch, outline," O.H.G. rizan
"to write, scratch, tear," Ger. 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. L. scribere,
); a few originally meant "paint" (cf. Goth. meljan,
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
(1682) originally was from accounting; fig. sense is recorded from 1889. Write-in
"unlisted candidate" is recorded from 1932.