I have seen this used with other words besides "large" and "small". What other words can be used? Can this structure be used more generally with other adjectives?

  • 1
    I think “writ large” is so idiomatic that it almost counts as a stormy petrel.
    – Jon Purdy
    Dec 22 '11 at 4:00
  • @Jon: Quite so. One rarely encounters placid petrels or low dudgeon, for example. (If they ever occur, they must be writ small so we don't notice them! :) Aug 12 '15 at 16:35

"Writ" as a verb is an archaic form of "written", the past tense and past participle of "write".

Hence it will take any adverb that applies to writing.

"Writ quickly", "writ slowly", "writ convincingly", "writ badly", etc.

However, I don't recommend using it, except for the idiom "writ large".

  • 1
    Apparently writ small has been used enough to register on NGram, but I'm sure that's mostly because it so closely echoes the standard writ large. I totally agree it would be a mistake to use anything other than the standard one unless you have some specific good reason, and are aware most people will at the very least do a bit of a double-take when they read anything else. Dec 21 '11 at 23:01
  • I really expected to find that "writ large" was found in either Shakespeare or the King James Bible, but apparently not.
    – slim
    Dec 21 '11 at 23:10
  • "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."
    – Gnawme
    Dec 22 '11 at 1:43
  • First use I can find is "New presbyter is but old priest writ large". Milton, 'On the new forcers of conscience under the Long Parliament'. Dec 22 '11 at 12:57
  • +1 THANK YOU, finally I am able to understand this stupid verb "writ" - stupid until now, because no dictionary has as good an explanation as the one you've provided here. Here's the sentence containing writ large from a recent NYT article that tripped me up: "But their problems in many ways reflected those of the Pentagon’s strategy writ large across Afghanistan at that moment of the war."
    – user40248
    Jul 7 '14 at 14:59

I believe that "writ small" and "writ large" can be restated (with some adjustment of the word order) as "a small version of" and "a large version of", respectively.

I don't think this construction can generally be used with other adjectives, though. For one thing, since "writ" is a variation of "written", you could only use adjectives that might also apply to manner in which one writes something. For example, "a mammoth is an elephant writ hairy" wouldn't make much sense. Even if the adjective could apply apply to penmanship, it sounds wrong. For example, "a Granny Smith is a Red Delicious writ green" sounds ridiculous, even though you could theoretically write using green ink rather than red.


writ ‎(“written”) + large; a reference to Plato’s Republic, wherein he describes the state (like the city-state) as being like the individual, but larger and easier to examine.


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