I've been curious about a word to express those 'marks' that we have, mostly, on pen written texts, usually when you write and make a mistake and you can't erase you have to cross out the word, then you have that "dirty mark". In my native language we have a specific word for that. I looked for the translation of the words we have and found scribbles and erasure.

So here is my question: Are the words from the title correct to refer to that? Can I get some examples? Is there any other word or expression to express this?

To see what I mean see this image:

picture of scribbling out words on a page

  • 2
    I would call that a scratch-out or, as you say, a cross-out. A scribble is a hasty and untidy writing or drawing, and an erasure removes the mark, entirely (more or less) - which as you point out cannot usually be achieved with inked markings. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 19 '13 at 21:27
  • Crossing-out is the variant I remember. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 19 '13 at 22:30

I've always called this a scratch:

verb (used with object)

  • to erase, cancel, strike out, or eliminate (a name, something written, etc.) by or as if by drawing a line through it (often followed by out ): Scratch out the third name on the list.


  • a rough mark made by a pen, pencil, etc.; scrawl.

— source: Dictionary.com

This describes both the physical act of scratching out the word, as well as metaphorically erasing it from the text.

On a side note, the phrase chicken scratch might apply if an entire body of text is so poorly written, it approaches illegibility:

An instance of cramped or illegible handwriting


This is often called a cross-out as you suggested. It also could be called a strikethrough or strikeout. While these terms are more often used for printed text that has been deleted, it could be used for handwritten text.

Erasure would likely not be appropriate since it conveys a removing of the offending phrase rather than crossing it out.


When the marks are handwritten, it is often referred to as "crossing outs" or "crossing offs".
If you want to express the action of marking a word or phrase as erroneous then simply say,
to cross out or to cross off.

I'd prefer if you just cross out the wrong answer, rather than go over it with Tipp-Ex/correction fluid.

To delete, erase or rub out a word means that the written word disappears from the page.

In Britain, pencil erasers are normally called rubbers (much to the bemusement of Americans), and I don't think to rub out is a common expression in the US nevertheless, note that the same preposition, out, is used in cross out and rub out.

Scribbles on the other hand, is often used to describe someone's awful handwriting, or when a child is learning to write. You scribble something on a note or on a list especially when you are in a hurry. Usually the only person able to decipher the message is the writer himself.


I am not aware of a word that applies specifically to handwritten marks. It appears that in English most words transcended into the digital era.

Emendation and redaction, though, could apply.

redact to edit a text for publication. (NOAD)

emend to make corrections and improvements to (a text). (NOAD)

Marginalia more specifically refers to the written marks. It less explicitly refers to revision, though. Marginalia is all notes written in the margin of the text. These could be revisions but they could just as well be a reader's comments to herself.


I'd generally say the text is "scratched out", or maybe "crossed out" -- the latter especially if done fairly neatly, with only one or two lines. If really obliterated, especially with ink, the resulting artifact might be called a "blot", and the text might be said to be "blotted out".

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