Is there any word which refers to the spilling, splattering, sprinkling or splashing of ink? (Or something less “violent”, like the pouring or dripping of ink?)

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    You might try smudge, but that’s more of a rubbing out of existing ink. – tchrist Oct 22 '12 at 12:54

This sort of thing...

Blots of black ink

...is a blot. Or several blots of ink, in this case. Also inkblot.

Image reference: http://chainink.blogspot.co.uk/2010_09_01_archive.html

  • Yet blot can also refer to the mopping up of ink. – Robusto Oct 22 '12 at 13:00
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    @Robusto Isn't English wonderful? I'd forgotten that blot can have two almost diametrically-opposed uses, just as cleave can. Those are blots in the image, though. – Andrew Leach Oct 22 '12 at 13:03
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    The blobs of spilt ink can indeed be called blots, but as Robusto says, if OP speaks of having blotted some ink that's more likely to mean used blotting paper to mop up excess/spilt ink, rather than the spilling itself. – FumbleFingers Oct 22 '12 at 13:04
  • Hmm. It's a long time since I used such a pen, but "I made a blot" comes to mind. – Andrew Leach Oct 22 '12 at 13:06
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    The phrase "He blotted his copy-book" has just come to mind. That doesn't mean that he mopped up some spilt ink. (Yes, it's normally figurative or metaphorical these days, but the origin is obvious) – Andrew Leach Oct 22 '12 at 13:24

How about spatter? (Note, this is not the same as splatter.)

spat·ter (sptr) v. spat·tered, spat·ter·ing, spat·ters v.tr. 1. To scatter (a liquid) in drops or small splashes.

  • While this is a nice answer, I think it's worth mentioning that spatter and splatter are in fact related and nearly synonymous. The etymology of splatter given by my American Heritage Dictionary is "blend of splash and spatter". The other definitions of spatter given in that dictionary are "2. To spot, splash, or soil. 3. To sully the reputation of; defame." 2. could apply to nonliquids like dirt and 3. of course has nothing to do with liquid; whereas splatter has a strong (perhaps even inescapable) connotation of liquid. – John Y Oct 22 '12 at 20:23

There are three common reasons why "traditional" ink ends up where you don't want it.

You accidentally knock over the ink-pot - normally described as spilling the ink.

Excess ink falls off the pen-nib en route from ink-pot to writing surface - you dripped the ink, resulting in a blot (noun), which you may blot (verb) with absorbent paper to stop it spreading.

An overloaded nib pools or blobs ink while you're actually writing.

But in practice today few people use quills or fountain pens where such mishaps can occur. Usually nowadays it's a cartridge pen or ballpoint, in which case the ink just leaks.

enter image description here


The first word that came to my mind was splotch.

One Ngram confirms that the word splotch is indeed coupled with the word ink in many contexts – more so than dirt.

Until today, however, I didn't realize that the word splotch also appears to be chiefly American.

Google images, upon getting a query for ink splotch, will suggest splatter, stain, splat, spot, and blotch as alternatives to be partnered with ink.


How about dribble, or trickle?

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