AskDefine | Define scribe

Dictionary Definition



1 French playwright (1791-1861) [syn: Augustin Eugene Scribe]
2 informal terms for journalists [syn: scribbler, penman]
3 someone employed to make written copies of documents and manuscripts [syn: copyist, scrivener]
4 a sharp-pointed awl for marking wood or metal to be cut [syn: scriber, scratch awl] v : score a line on with a pointed instrument, as in metalworking

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. One who writes; a draughtsman; a writer for another; especially, an official or public writer; an amanuensis or secretary; a notary; a copyist.
  2. A writer and doctor of the law; one skilled in the law and traditions; one who read and explained the law to the people.
  3. A very sharp, steel drawing implement used in engraving and etching.


One who writes; a draughtsman
A writer and doctor of the law
A very sharp, steel drawing implement used in engraving and etching


  1. To write, or to record.
  2. To write or draw with a scribe.


To write, or to record
To write or draw with a scribe

See also

Extensive Definition

A scribe (or scrivener) is a person who writes books or documents by hand. The profession lost most of its importance with the advent of printing.

Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptian scribe (MdC transliteration zXA.w) was a person educated in the arts of writing (using both hieroglyphics and hieratic scripts, and from the second half of the first millennium BCE also the demotic script) and arithmetics. He was generally male, belonged socially to what we would refer to as a middle class elite, and was employed in the bureaucratic administration of the pharaonic state, of its army, and of the temples. Sons of scribes were brought up in the same scribal tradition, sent to school and, upon entering the civil service, inherited their fathers' positions.
Much of what is known about ancient Egypt is due to the activities of its scribes. Monumental buildings were erected under their supervision, administrative and economic activities were documented by them, and tales from the mouths of Egypt's lower classes or from foreign lands survive thanks to scribes putting them in writing.
The profession, first associated with the goddess Seshat, became restricted to males in the later dynasties.
Scribes were also considered part of the royal court and did not have to pay tax or join the military. The scribal profession had companion professions, the painters and artisans who decorated tombs, buildings, furniture, statuary, and other relics with pictures and hieroglyphic text.


Writing in early Mesopotamia seems to have grown out of the need to document economic transactions, and consisted often in lists which scribes knowledgeable in writing and arithmetics engraved in cuneiform letters into tablets of clay. Apart from administration and accountancy, Mesopotamian scribes observed the sky and wrote literary works. They wrote on papyrus paper.


A Sofer () are among the few scribes that still ply their trade by hand. Renowned calligraphers, they produce the Hebrew Torah scrolls and other holy texts by hand to this day.they wrote on papyrus which is a reed grown along the Nile river.



  • Barry J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, Routledge 2006, ISBN 0415235499, pp.166ff.
  • Henri-Jean Martin, The History and Power of Writing, University of Chicago Press 1995, ISBN 0226508366
  • David McLain Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature, Oxford University Press collyn anderson2005, ISBN 0195172973


External links

scribe in German: Kopist
scribe in Modern Greek (1453-): Σοφερείμ
scribe in Spanish: Escriba
scribe in French: Scribe dans l'Égypte antique
scribe in Italian: Scriba
scribe in Norwegian: Soferim
scribe in Portuguese: Escriba

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Levite, accountant, advertising writer, amanuensis, annalist, archivist, art critic, author, authoress, baal kore, belletrist, bibliographer, bookkeeper, calligrapher, cantor, carve, chase, chief rabbi, chirographer, clerk, coauthor, collaborator, columnist, commentator, compiler, composer, copier, copy, copy out, copyist, copywriter, creative writer, critic, dance critic, diarist, documentalist, draft, drama critic, dramatist, dramaturge, draw up, edit, editor, enchase, encyclopedist, enface, engrave, engraver, engross, essayist, etch, filing clerk, free lance, free-lance writer, ghost, ghostwriter, gossip columnist, grave, hack, high priest, humorist, incise, indite, inditer, ink spiller, inkslinger, inscribe, journalist, kohen, letterer, librarian, literary artist, literary craftsman, literary critic, literary man, litterateur, logographer, magazine writer, make a recension, make out, man of letters, mark, marker, monographer, music critic, newspaperman, newspaperwoman, newswriter, notary, notary public, novelettist, novelist, pamphleteer, paragraphist, pen, pencil, pencil driver, penman, penner, penny-a-liner, penwoman, playwright, poet, priest, prose writer, prothonotary, push the pen, put in writing, rabbi, rabbin, recense, record, record clerk, recorder, recording secretary, recordist, register, registrar, reporter, reviewer, revise, rewrite, scenario writer, scenarist, score, scorekeeper, scorer, scratch, scribbler, scriptwriter, scrive, scrivener, scroll, secretary, short-story writer, sob sister, spill ink, spoil paper, stenographer, stonecutter, storyteller, superscribe, technical writer, timekeeper, trace, transcribe, transcriber, type, word painter, word-slinger, wordsmith, write, write down, write out, writer
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