There are several different verbs that deal with handwriting.

Write, Handwrite, sketch, draw... then there is Type, key-in... etc.

Is there a verb that means to write in calligraphy? I have thought of the verb 'to pen' something, but many times that means to just write longhand. (or use a pen, or take a note...)

The sentence I found a need for the word was that a friend said he would write a note on a box in fancy handwriting. I expressed a thought that you could write underneath the word art, in parentheses '(you better like this, it took me 15 minutes to ________ the lettering)

A word that came to mind (not a real word) was something like calligriphate, or calligrafy.

  • Depending on the exact form of calligraphy, you might be able to get away with copperplate as a verb. I know most dictionaries will probably only define it as To engrave on and print from a copper-plate, but I'd be quite happy to use it for writing copperplate text with a broad-nibbed pen. Jul 3, 2015 at 18:02
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I think you’d be in the minority there. Copperplate as a verb is fine (though I think I would first and foremost understand it to mean engraving in an actual copper plate), but the style you’ve linked to there is not at all what I imagine when I hear the term copperplate as it applies to calligraphy—quite the opposite, in fact. In my personal experience as a wannabe amateur calligrapher, copperplate writing is specifically roundhand written with a pointed nib; never a broad nib. What your link leads to is what I would call a type of blackletter, never copperplate. Jul 3, 2015 at 18:58
  • You could invent to caligraph (or does it exist already?). -Yes, Merriam-Webster has it as backformation of calligraphy. i.word.com/idictionary/calligraph
    – rogermue
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:28
  • @JanusBahsJacquet You are right. When I was at grammar school in the 50s both our headmaster and the art teacher were calligraphers - and both wrote using the then-fashionable Italic style. An effort was made to encourage italic handwriting throughout the school and we were told to use broad-nibbed fountain pens. One reason it was preferred to the earlier copperplate style, we were told, was that italic was faster to write, the up and down movements of the pen taking much less time. It was therefore considered practical. It is my regret that I didn't make more of an effort with it.
    – WS2
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:31
  • You could invent to calligraph (or does it exist already?). - Yes, Merriam-Webster has it as backformation of calligraphy. i.word.com/idictionary/calligraph
    – rogermue
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


calligraph (verb):

  1. Write in calligraphic style
    (Source: ODO)

    'the invitations were meticulously calligraphed in black ink'

  2. To write beautifully or ornamentally
    (Source: OED)

Thanks to Ermanen for supplying the OED definition

  • 3
    +1 - Sometimes it's right in front of your eyes :) OED definition is: To write beautifully or ornamentally.
    – ermanen
    Jul 3, 2015 at 19:32
  • @ermanen many thanks for supplying the OED definition, which I've added as an edit Jul 3, 2015 at 20:44

Scribe is a word that describes the act of skillfully writing by hand. It traditionally relates to skilled copiers of books/documents, and its standard use refers to professional handwriting, rather than any writing done by hand.

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