Posted by: Jack Henry | March 28, 2016

Editor’s Corner: 10 Words Derived from “Scribe”

Good morning, folks. I received an interesting article from Daily Writing Tips, which lists ten words derived from the word scribe. Scribe comes from the Latin word scribere, meaning to write, so this information is of interest to all of us!

All the words in the list are verbs, but some can all be changed to nouns by changing ­­-scribe to ­-scription, as in describe/description.

ascribe: attribute (literally, “write to”: “It is largely to this that we must ascribe the national conservatism and contempt for foreigners”)

circumscribe: constrict or surround, or define (literally, “draw around”: “To circumscribe the influence of the ruling favorites, he next suggested the formation of a cabinet council of six or eight ministers”)

conscribe: synonym for circumscribe or variant of conscript

describe: represent by drawing something or talking about it, or trace the outline of something (literally, “draw from”: “I can’t describe how helpless I felt”)

inscribe: write on something (literally, “write in”: “They would then inscribe a verse over the door of the house for protection”)

prescribe: make a rule, or tell someone to use a remedy or treatment (literally, “write before”: “The numerous fasts of the national church prescribe a fish diet”)

proscribe: prohibit (literally, “write for”: “When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen’s constitutional right to free speech, it acts lawlessly”)

subscribe: sign or support, or pay regularly for a publication or service (literally, “write beneath”: “Long ago, she had learned that many people didn’t subscribe to her morals”)

superscribe: write outside or on top of or over (literally, “write over”: “Kindly superscribe renewal on the envelope if you are sending it by post”)

transcribe: copy something written or write something spoken, or rewrite music for a different instrument or voice or in a different key (literally, “write across”: “She will transcribe the speech and send you a copy tomorrow”)

This topic caught my eye because it reminds me of an excellent short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street,” by Herman Melville. A scrivener or scribe is a person who drafts legal documents. In Melville’s day, a scrivener wrote out or copied legal documents by hand (which would hurt both your hand and your sanity!). If you’re a fan of classical literature and you haven’t read it, you should check this story out. Or, you could be like Bartleby and say, “I would prefer not to.”

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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