v. wrote (rōt), writ·ten (rĭtn) also writ (rĭt), writ·ing, writes
a. To form (letters, words, or symbols) on a surface such as paper with an instrument such as a pen.
b. To form (letters or words) in cursive style, especially in contrast to printing by hand.
c. To spell: How do you write your name?
a. To fill (an amount of space) with words or information: wrote five pages in an hour.
b. To put written information in the blank spaces of (a check, form, or similar document).
a. To produce or compose (text) in a recorded form that can be read: write a poem; write a letter.
b. To express in writing; set down: write one's thoughts.
c. To communicate by writing, especially by written letter: She wrote that she was planning to visit.
d. To communicate with (someone) by writing, especially by letter: wrote me to tell me she had moved again.
4. To compose (a musical work).
a. To underwrite, as an insurance policy.
b. To compose in legal form; draft: write a will.
6. To indicate; mark: "Utter dejection was written on every face" (Winston S. Churchill).
7. To ordain or prophesy: It was written that the empire would fall.
8. Computers To transfer or copy (information) from memory to a storage device or output device.
1. To trace or form letters, words, or symbols on paper or another surface: people who cannot read or write.
2. To produce written material, such as articles or books: She wrote for most of her adult life.
3. To compose a letter, email, or other written communication: Please write while you are away.
1. To set down in writing.
2. Accounting To record a reduced value for (an asset): forced to write down a security after a fall in its market value.
3. Accounting To record (a loss) by reducing the value of an asset: wrote down $10 million in bad debt.
4. To write in a conspicuously simple or condescending style: felt he had to write down to his students.
5. To disparage in writing: a film that was written down in the magazine.
1. To cast a vote by inserting (a name not listed on a ballot).
2. To insert in a text or document: wrote in an apology at the end of the note.
3. To communicate with an organization by mail: write in with a completed entry form.
1. Accounting To record (a worthless asset) as a loss.
2. Accounting To record (a loss or expense) as a reduction in earnings or in the value of an asset: wrote off business expenses when calculating taxable income.
3. To consider as a loss or failure: wrote off the rainy first day of the vacation.
4. To disregard as inconsequential: wrote off the singer as a novelty act.
1. To express or compose in writing: write out a request.
2. To write in full or expanded form: All abbreviations are to be written out.
1. To write a report or description of, as for publication.
2. Accounting To record an increased value for (an asset).
3. To report (someone) in writing, as for breaking the law: wrote him up for speeding.
4. To bring (a journal, for example) up to date.
write (one's) own ticket
To set one's own terms or course of action entirely according to one's own needs or wishes: an open-ended and generous scholarship that lets recipients write their own ticket.
write the book on
To be the preeminent practitioner of or expert in (something).
Signified, expressed, or embodied in a greater or more prominent magnitude or degree: "The man was no more than the boy writ large" (George Eliot).
[Middle English writen, from Old English wrītan.]
Word History: Every modern Indo-European language of Western Europe except English derives its verb for "to write" from Latin scrībere: French écrire, Spanish escribir, Portuguese escrever, Catalan escriure, Italian scrivere, Irish scríobh, Scottish Gaelic sgrìobh, Welsh ysgrifennu, Breton skriva, Icelandic skrifa, Danish and Norwegian skrive, Swedish skriva, German schreiben, and Dutch schrijven. The English verb write, however, comes from Old English wrītan, from the Germanic root *writ- that in turn comes from the Indo-European root *wreid- meaning "to cut, scratch, tear, sketch an outline." German still retains this meaning in its cognate verb reissen, "to tear." Only Old English employed wrītan to refer to writing—that is, scratching on parchment with a pen. English shows a similar contrariness in its verb read, being almost the only western European language not to derive that verb from Latin legere.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.