From earlier ceriph, ceref, of obscure derivation. There are two (not directly interrelated) candidates for a possible Dutch origin: 1.) the noun schreef (“stroke”, now also “serif” as a semantic loan), related with schrapen (“to scrape”); and 2.) the verb schrafferen (“to provide with horizontal lines, to shade”), from Italian sgraffiare. For the latter, compare German Schraffe (“serif”), although this again may be a semantic loan based on the English word rather than original to it. Alternatively, from Late Latin cerificus (“waxen”), from Latin cera (“wax”), after the ruled lines used in writing on wax tablets.
serif (plural serifs)
- (typography) A short line added to the end of a stroke in traditional typefaces, such as Times New Roman.
serif (not comparable)