A word processor is the machine equivalent of a typesetter; what is the human equivalent of a copier?

This word could describe the jobs of monks who copied the Bible, for instance; they did not author it, but they are writing it. 'Writer' often has the implication that this is original work.

2 Answers 2


I think you're looking for the term "scribe". See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scribe


  • a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of printing.
  • a public clerk or writer, usually one having official status.
  • Also called sopher, sofer. Judaism. one of the group of Palestinian scholars and teachers of Jewish law and tradition, active from the 5th century b.c. to the 1st century a.d., who transcribed, edited, and interpreted the Bible.
  • a writer or author, especially a journalist.
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    Also, from the first definition, the even broader and more generic copyist, which is a good fit, too. Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 16:38


amanuensis [əˌmænjʊˈɛnsɪs] n pl -ses [-siːz]

a person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts


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    I’m not sure this is quite an accurate fit. Monks copying manuscripts, for example, do not seem like amanuenses to me—an amanuensis to me is more specifically someone who is hired to take dictations or copy manuscripts for a specific person in a specific setting, i.e., basically a secretary who doesn’t make coffee and keep track of your appointments. While not related to English directly, also note that in some countries/institutions, an amanuensis is an academic rank, usually some kind of non-doctorate teacher or teaching assistant in a university. Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 16:38
  • See cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/MedievalHistory/… - 'amanuensis' has and has had different senses, of course - but then so has 'scribe'. You'll rarely get a 'perfect fit' for any word in terms of others. Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 22:10
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    It’s more the fact that with ‘scribe’, the instant image is that of a monk copying manuscripts and other meanings are secondary and reliant on specific contexts; whereas with ‘amanuensis’, to me at least, the image of the monk copying manuscripts is a secondary meaning, the primary and immediate one being someone with a dictaphone in his hand. I would require a much more specific context to understand ‘amanuensis’ to mean what the asker is specifying here than to understand ‘scribe’ in the same manner. Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 22:16
  • amanuensis Formal. 1. a secretary. 2. a scribe or copyist. ... -Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group. There is an article here also: wisegeek.com/what-is-an-amanuensis.htm containing: An amanuensis is someone who takes dictation, transcribes written material, or assists in some other way with written or hand-performed work... [Originally} a reference to the personal secretaries who accompanied high-ranking Romans...Over time the term came to refer to ... An amanuensis could work in a medieval scriptorium, for example, copying manuscripts for distribution... Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 22:58
  • Most of the references I've encountered for the term amanuensis describes a highly capable specialist. Someone who is highly educated in a particular field and serves as an intelligent assistant in the creation of some literary or artistic work. This person typically has literary/artistic skills well beyond a secretary taking dictation, a typist inputting long hand, or a stenographer running a stenography machine. I would not use amanuensis to describe a human copier. As stated above, I'd use scribe.
    – user94203
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 3:41

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