I remember reading years ago that there was a word for this. The only example I can think of is Liberace's signature, which famously incorporated a piano. There is a term for this, I'm sure of it.

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  • 1
    Other famous examples include John Hancock's oversize signature on the U.S. Declaration of Independence (which gave rise to metonymic usage of his name to mean signature) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler's butterfly signature. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 22:03
  • Yeah, "John Hancock" is often used as an example of such a signature, though I don't know of an idiom that incorporates that name to denote such a signature.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 22:17
  • It's still a signature, albeit an elaborate one.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 23:46
  • Would calligraphy be appropriate or do you mean for this to be limited to signatures? Calligraphy can include art as seen here youtube.com/watch?v=KvSyQDu49pI
    – Yeshe
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 2:04

5 Answers 5


It is called a paraph:

a flourish after a signature, originally as a precaution against forgery.[1]

[1] "paraph". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 20 Apr. 2016. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/paraph>.

  • Since nobody here knew it, had to go research it and find it by hand. Knew I had read this somewhere. Word of the day everyone! Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 3:43
  • A paraph is a flourish made after the signiture, not the signiture. Your question is unclear with that respect.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 5:08
  • Okay, sorry I did not remember the word with mathematical precision. I will do better next time. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 5:19
  • Please source your reference. I would have aimed for fancy signature myself.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 5:36
  • are you the ghost of MLA past Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 5:40

Although I’d use the phrase “signed/signing with great/grand flourish” to describe this, a “flourished signature” is also apparently used for it.

(example of the phrase from ‘The American Revolution’ by Bruce Lancaster & John Harold Plumb and one of “flourished signature” from ‘The Harvard Monthly, Volume 54’, both via ‘Google Books’)


I think it is an artistic autograph:

  • the signature of a famous person



It’s called a signature rubric.

  • This would be improved with a citation of the source. Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 5:13

If the signature is a personal, handwritten inscription of the author of the work to another person, it's a dedication.

However, dedication may incorporate either a drawing or a text or both.

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    The question is about the signature itself: it's not a dedication unless (as you imply) the author has written a personal message to the recipient. And then it's still a dedication even if the signature is very plain. So being a dedication or not is completely independent of the nature of the signature.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 23:29
  • @TrevorD - The drawing is not a part of Liberace's signature (example). Such drawings are mostly associated to signatures in dedications.
    – Graffito
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 23:41
  • But it being a dedication is unrelated to the presence or absence of "an artistic flourish" (as part of the signature) or any drawing, even if one often accompanies the other. The question was about "a signature that incorporates an artistic flourish", which need not be a dedication. Your info is incidental, but not answering the question.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 23:55

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