Say you've read a poem by William Shakespeare. You liked it very much so you remembered it by heart. Now you can recite it, i.e., read it aloud from your memory, or, you can write it down accurately without checking up the source.

Is there an English word or phrase to describe the latter action? In Chinese we have a word called 默写 that does the job. It functions both as a verb and a noun. If I were to translate it into English, what is the colloquial way to express it?

4 Answers 4


Referring to the latter action, we write things down from memory. I can't think of a more concise way to say that.

We also recite (speak out loud) something from memory.


I would use 'to quote' - http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/quote?searchDictCode=all. Hope this works for you :)


There are a number of idiomatic phrases you could use:

I have committed that poem to memory.


I know that poem by heart.


I know that poem so well that I could recite it in my sleep.

I imagine there are many others.

  • This does not answer the question.
    – user6951
    Jan 12, 2015 at 7:40

I think the phrase most commonly used is "quoted by heart" i.e. verbatim (Latin).

To quote verbatim means to quote word for word. This does not only mean the quoting of a conversation word for word (i.e. verbatim), but the recitation of poetry or text word for word.


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