I am looking for a verb to describe the creation of a map as in the following paragraph:

Unfortunately, due to strong winds during the journey home, the maps you have painstakingly ___ were blown off your ship and are now forever lost to the depths of the ocean."

The map is on a physical medium. I also intend to put some emphasis to the fact that the map maker had put in significant effort in making their map, so a verb that suggests this would be ideal. I'll accept the answer that sounds most natural and conveys the notions in this paragraph.

The simplest word that comes to my mind is "drawn", but that sounds too generic. One can draw any generic diagram.

I can think of "draft", but that sounds like the map is a draft version, i.e. sketchily drawn and not the final product.

Is there a verb to better describe this action in this context?

  • 4
    This question is attracting numerous ideas or items. This means the question is subjective. Subjective questions will be closed unless the request is expert-level, unique, particularly interesting and thought-provoking, shows substantial effort and research, and demands responses that meet these same standards. See: “Good Subjective, Bad Subjective – SE Blog”; “Real Questions Have Answers – SE Blog”.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 16:04
  • 1
    The question could be improved by adding or elaborating on: (i) your criteria for accepting answers, including connotation, register, and part of speech; (ii) exact context – generally we want the sentence you’re writing; and (iii) details of research you’ve already done (trips to the thesaurus, etc.) including solutions you’ve already rejected, and why.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 16:05
  • 2
    Also avoid asking for help remembering something you’ve forgotten. This is what we call a "guessing game" question. They're not a good fit for the site – or, to my knowledge, any SE site. See: Let’s Play The Guessing Game – Stack Overflow Blog If possible, eliminate that element of your question.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 16:06
  • 3
    Despite the attempted explanation in the question, I still don't get why the word "draw" (past participle "drawn") is not good enough. It's true that drawing can be done carelessly and sketchily or with extreme care and precision, and that there are many things other than maps that one can draw, but that's why it typically takes multiple words to convey the full meaning of a sentence. The object map and the modifier painstakingly tell us what was drawn and how it was drawn. Do you object to such a simple word because it's not sufficiently florid?
    – David K
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 14:08
  • 1
    Fair warning: unfortunately, it is not technically practical for moderators to perform more than one migration from the comment thread to the chatroom. So further discussion here will simply be deleted.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 15:31

18 Answers 18


"crafted", or "created". The word Cartographer implies that the person has a certain skillset and they were employing those special skills in creating the map. "Plotted" is also a good word depending on how much focus you want to put on the technicality of creating the map. "contrived" or "derived" might also bee good choices depending on the context of the sentence.

  • 2
    Plotting, yes.
    – PCARR
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 19:52
  • 8
    I like "crafted" in this context because of its connotations not only of expertise, but also of personal investment of time, effort and even emotion.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 14:58
  • This is the best answer.
    – Devil07
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 18:31
  • 1
    "painstakingly labored to create" Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 6:44
  • 1
    I have upvoted this very good and succinct answer - but it's a shame it is spoiled by it not beginning with a capital letter. If the first three words are, in essence, a title - then why not put them in bold/italics and begin the comments on a line or two below. In good communications (of which language is one important part), presentation is everything else.
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 7:44

Make or draw a map appear to be the more common expressions:

Cartography (from Greek χάρτης khartēs, "papyrus, sheet of paper, map"; and γράφειν graphein, "write") is the study and practice of making maps.



the science or art of making or drawing maps.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

enter image description here Canyon Cartography

How The Map Was Made - Canyon Cartography – Wrightwood, CA Chris Kasten Cartographer Drawing map.


You could use the verb chart. The OED offers this definition:

a. trans. To make a chart of; to lay down in a chart; to map.

Example citations match closely to the usage you are seeking:

The idea of actually charting these profound regions.

  • 1851 J. P. Nichol Archit. Heavens (ed. 9) 114

Usually the object of chart is the subject that is being mapped itself, e.g.

The cartographers carefully charted the city

However, using "chart" in your example sentence would sound perfectly natural and express the meaning that you're looking for.

The cartographer charts a map of the city.

Based on the comments to my answer, there seems to be some contention around the notion that chart a map sounds natural. Having already mentioned that typically the object is what is being mapped itself, I still maintain that chart a map is acceptable on the grounds that it is easily understood and can be found in use by reputable writers.

Consider this passage from PBS News Hour, written by Nsikan Akpan:

The team examined median income data for individual areas in the U.S. to chart a map of the communities most at-risk for water poverty.

  • 1
    As a native English speaker, I can confirm that "chart" is the first word that came to mind for this, and it's the most appropriate one, in my opinion. Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 2:47

You should be able to say "the cartographer mapped the city", where the verb to map would be defined as (from Oxford Dictionaries)):

Map, verb
represent (an area) on a map; make a map of.

  • 7
    "Map" doesn't work well (is redundant) in context of the question's fill-in-the-blank question: “The cartographer ___ a map of the city.”
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 17:21
  • 2
    @RonJohn yes, that's why Jon changed the example sentence. This was my first thought as well. There is a verb that carries the precise meaning the OP wants, and that's map. If the sentence doesn't fit, changing the sentence seems like the best solution. It's only complicated because of the sentence itself.
    – terdon
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 14:31
  • 1
    I agree with changing the sentence rather than twisting in a sub-par word. For instance, given the template "I ____ the rope around the cattle.", the correct word is "roped", which is to say, "I roped the cattle." By forcing the use of the template, you lose out on a simple phrase and may create confusion for the reading.
    – MivaScott
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 0:01
  • Adding "out" is a common variation, e.g. mapped out
    – 1j01
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 6:09
  • In hindsight, since the question has been revamped: it's actually irrelevant when you realise that the intent is to actually underline the very value of that physical map. Getting rid of the object altogether is quite nonsensical!
    – ccjmne
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 14:30

I'm going to expand upon my comment which suggested the use of Plot.

First, as a noun:

1 a : a small area of planted ground

b : a small piece of land in a cemetery

c : a measured piece of land : lot

2 : ground plan, plat

These definitions all indicate a strong relation to land.

Next, for Plot as a verb:

1 a : to make a plot, map, or plan of

b : to mark or note on or as if on a map or chart

2 : to lay out in plots (see 1plot 1)

These definitions however, in addition to a well-timed work meeting, lead me to suggest another word, which is Plat.

As a noun:

1 : a small piece of ground (such as a lot or quadrat) : plot

2 : a plan, map, or chart of a piece of land with actual or proposed features (such as lots); also : the land represented

Think a Plat of Subdivision or Plat of Vacation.

And as a verb:

to make a plat of

These are just MW definitions, but working with maps like I do, these are terms I would expect to hear, and they sound right.

  • Plat (platted) is better than plot (plotted) -- to plot a map could mean merely making a copy.
    – AmI
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 18:55
  • 10
    Note that 'plat' is listed in Oxford Dictionaries as 'North American English', so depending on who you are writing for it may not be recognised, e.g. I'm British and had never heard it before. Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 9:26
  • 1
    If you draw a grid and plot something on it and then end up with a map, one still would not say here: to plot a map. This is just crazy.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 21:54
  • 1
    It seems to me that 'plotting something on an (existing) map' sounds a lot more natural than 'plotting the map (itself)'
    – crizzis
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 11:34
  • 2
    @dave I'm murican and I have never heard the word plat either.
    – 10 Replies
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 18:03

I believe that the correct term here is, like others have mentioned, charted or drawn, but I want to express a different option whereby you could completely eliminate the need to find a verb to fit the same meaning, without it appearing at all unnatural or awkward. (Additionally, I do not think that draft has the linguistic connotation you mentioned, there is an entire field called drafting and people that proudly carry the title draftsmen - having paid for their services on more than one occasion to generate detailed schematics for patent applications, I can tell you they most certainly a) don't come cheap, and b) wouldn't appreciate being associated with imprecision or haste.)

You see, in my humble opinion, the right verb here is map. So if one is attempting to avoid the awkward (even incorrect) duplication in saying "the maps you have mapped," I would propose dropping your existing usage of map, and replacing that with another noun that could apply.

Since we are speaking of ocean navigation, I believe the most precise formation would be along the lines of the following:

Unfortunately, due to strong winds during the journey home, the charts you have painstakingly mapped were blown off your ship and are now forever lost to the depths of the ocean."

(I don't think have serves any purpose in the sentence, but I could be wrong here.)

(Sidebar: when I first read the title before clicking the link, the only word that came to mind was am, as in, "I am a map." 😄)

  • When I saw only the title on the HNQ list, my first thought was "need"...
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 4:37
  • 1
    As soon as I saw this answer yesterday, I upvoted. However, for the DR;TL crowd may I suggest that you place in bold ...**the charts you painstakingly mapped**... for emphasis.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 14:05
  • @Mari-LouA Thanks & good idea; done. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 15:36
  • I used the present perfect tense as the mapping was done while at the city over a period of time. The present perfect tense seems to serve that purpose better (at least it seems so to me).
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 12:59
  • 2
    "Mapping" is the abstract process of assembling a map, a correspondence between the real world and a convenient representation; "drafting" is the application of the map to paper. Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 5:48

I would suggest 'produced', that way it doesn't make assumtions regarding the method of how the map was made. If we use drew, then we assume it was by hand.



Crafted agrees with "painstakingly", implying more attention to detail than "made" or "drew".

It also avoids verbs which themselves apply to mapping or surveying, as that would overload the sentence with mapping references, belaboring the point: "Maps you painstakingly mapped" or "the cartographer mapped quality maps of the city."

  • The verb "crafted" had already been suggested on January 3 by Scott Thompson
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 21:16
  • @Mari-LouA I don't recall that. Ah, I see why: he mentioned quite a variety of words in a muddle, shotgunning the whole field. But he didn't really reason through or build a case for any of them, which made his answer unmemorable. I don't have a problem with that (and I certainly don't downvote answers merely for being a different style than mine, IDIC), but I picked one word and made a good case for it. It sounds to me like you fancy this stack as some sort of "game show", first to the buzzer, and all that. I never considered that. Did I violate a rule? Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:26
  • Yeah, fine. I'm not saying your answer is better or worse, just that somebody else suggested the same term a couple of days earlier. No one else seems to have noticed (or cared). Obviously, if you supported your answer with links, references and the like, that would strengthen it IMO.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:36
  • Obviously, if I were to post an answer that suggested crafted*, gave various excerpts from books which supported my answer, delved into its etymology, and maybe posted a nice image or two, I wonder how would you react?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:39
  • @Mari-LouA You are talking about a different answer with a notably higher level of, heh, craft. I would say "good on you" and probably upvote it, because in my perception, that's how things work here. The ultimate goal is to create great answers (and be nice to each other). I once noticed a flaw in something called "out"rage: the visceral sense of defending another which is much more potent than defending oneself... In my observation, it is also much more likely to become misguided. Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:55

Some examples from The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell, an award-winning novel told from the point of view of a cartographer:

You are a maker of maps. A good one, it is said. Therefore, you will draw me a map...


It is a crime...to draw a map without permission of the Council of the Indies.


Then you are not a maker of maps. You are one who corrects maps. A copyist.


In the time of the fearsome gorge, there was no time to work on my map, though I had carefully put down all readings.


"Drafted" is ideal here. As Mahmoud Al-Qudsi's answer indicates, drafting is the process of creating a technical drawing. The word doesn't inherently suggest sketchiness: there are first drafts, and there are final drafts.


My preference to complete this sentence is prepared. It potentially covers all aspects of creation, from data collection and calculation, to placing ink on paper.

Unfortunately, due to strong winds during the journey home, the maps you have painstakingly prepared were blown off your ship and are now forever lost to the depths of the ocean.

If you want to emphasize the value of the lost product rather than the work effort, consider using meticulously instead of painstakingly.

  • I seem to like the sound of "meticulously" in this context.
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 7:41

I'm assuming we're talking about map creation here, so I'd go with generated a map.

Whenever you create something through a programmatical procedure, it's common to refer to it as generation. E.g. Procedurally and/or randomly generated terrain, character generation, map generation, text generation, etc.

  • 2
    This answer is no longer relevant, after the edits to the question.
    – pipe
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 16:06
  • No need to tell me that. I answered according to what I read, if the question changes later, then just disregard my answer. Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 3:53

Although I believe charted to be the best fit, you might also consider scribed.

“The cartographer painstakingly scribed a map of the city.”

The word scribed, like charted, has the advantage of an oldy-worldy feel which fits the theme of your question. Additionally, I feel scribed suitably conjures the feeling of significant effort you describe.

Link to Google definition

  • 1
    I've never seen "scribe" used for a diagram or drawing (as opposed to text). Online definitions seem to suggest that "scribe" means the writing of text. Can you provide a reference that uses "scribe" for a non-textual piece of work?
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 3:42
  • Generally definitions by varying dictionaries sum up 'to scribe' as 'to write'. Although that implies text, I don't think that is necessarily always the case. Here is one example from a interesting looking book I found with a little googling ("Upon which graphs are scribed").
    – Rudi
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 17:57
  • 'Scribed' was what I first thought, when I saw the question. Historically, 'a scribe' was a monk who could write something for you - in an era in which most people could not write. Writing had not become a common skill. I love the sense of the scribe as a specialist who would, yes, painstakingly chart out what you had to say, on paper - much as a map-maker does. I love the way 'scribe' encapsulates a craft relating to writing and capturing meaning. google.com.sg/…
    – Jelila
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 23:42

Made seems to be the most simple. It lets the reader know that it was completed and is a final version.


"The cartographer rendered a map of the city". It's more Programmatic and GIS compatible to me.


Consider elaborate (dictionary.com)

verb (used with object), elaborated, elaborating.

  1. to work out carefully or minutely; develop to perfection. Synonyms: refine, improve.
  2. to add details to; expand.
  3. to produce or develop by labor.
  4. Physiology. to convert (food, plasma, etc.) by means of chemical processes into a substance more suitable for use within the body.

"Unfortunately, due to strong winds during the journey home, the maps you have painstakingly elaborated were blown off your ship and are now forever lost to the depths of the ocean."

  • 1
    I've never seen "elaborate a map" used before. Even if a simplified version of the map had already been created by another person, I would probably not use "elaborate" to describe a map. (Instead, "refine" seems to be a more natural choice.) "Elaborate" only feels natural when used with something textual or verbal (as opposed to diagrammatic) in nature to me.
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 13:06

You can use the word itself - similar to

A sculptor sculpts

A cartographer cartographs

and in practice:

The cartographer painstakingly cartographs a map of the city.

  • Doesn't this sound... overly repetitive?
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 3:43
  • @Bernard it certainly does - but that doesnt make it wrong
    – Zombo
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 3:47
  • but that doesn't make it wrongIt doesn't make it a good suggestion either. Are we supposed to write every possible verb in connection with maps? Please include a link that shows "cartograph" is commonly used verb.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 21:20

What about "The cartographer designed a map of the city"?

  • 6
    Welcome to ELU.SE. But... well, what about it? Be bold with your answers: make the case for what you suggest; include in your answer why it is right.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 21:51
  • 1
    I just want to point out that "designed" implies a creative endeavour. I would expect some creativity when making some sort of map, but it's mostly a scientific exercise. Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 2:47
  • "Designed" might suggest that the city is not yet built. Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 9:28
  • 1
    @DaveMongose Would not that be expressed by: "The cartographer designed the city"?
    – pinpon
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 16:41
  • @pinpon To me, "design" would imply some creative choices which you don't have when mapping a real place. I think "designed a map" would be suitable for a fictional or planned city but less so for an existing one. Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 11:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.