Definition of scrawl by Dictionary.com:

to write awkwardly, carelessly, or illegibly.

Definition of scribble by Dictionary.com:

to write or draw in a hasty or careless way.

The definition of scribble is actually exactly the same as the earliest definition of this question. You use "scribble" to describe something that is written awkwardly, carelessly or illegibly. Likewise, the word scrawl also shares the meaning of writing hastily or carelessly.

So what is the difference between them? I can't differentiate them by dictionary definitions or Google search.

EDIT: Definition of scrawl by Merriam-Webster:

: to write or draw awkwardly, hastily, or carelessly scrawled his name


2 Answers 2


scrawl is usually related to writing (or what is supposed to be writing), while scribble can be any kind of markings.

See scribble:

  1. verb
    To scribble means to make meaningless marks or rough drawings using a pencil or pen.
    When Caroline was five she scribbled on a wall.

If you check the definitions of scrawl, they all refer to writing in some way.

Also, adults tend to scrawl (it is usually intentional), while children tend to scribble (they are careless or haven't learned how to write or draw yet).

  • oh, sorry, I just added definition of scrawl by Merriam-Webster. Is your answer still stands that "scrawl" is usually related to writing?
    – XPMai
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 6:55
  • I edited my answer.
    – user3169
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 7:04

Here are two pictures to illustrate these meanings:

  1. Scrawling enter image description here

  2. Scribbling enter image description here

However, when speaking about adults' manner of writing we can use these words as synonyms:

He scrawled his signature. (= His signature looked like a squiggle.)

I scribbled my name at the bottom of the page.(= I wrote my name very quickly, so it looked unreadable.)

  • I've just been voted down. Am I wrong?
    – Yulia
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 7:31
  • 1
    I've upvoted your answer to restore your rep unless someone comes here and invalidate your answer.
    – XPMai
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:16

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