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From Middle French superscription, or its source, Late Latin superscriptio, from superscribere.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /suːpəˈskɹɪpʃ(ə)n/


superscription (countable and uncountable, plural superscriptions)

  1. Something written (or engraved) on the surface, outside, or above something else; specifically, an address on a letter, envelope, etc.
    • 1915, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear
      "Dear me, Mr. Holmes. Dear me!" said this singular epistle. There was neither superscription nor signature. I laughed at the quaint message; but Holmes showed unwonted seriousness.
    • 1930, Pearl S. Buck, East wind: west wind, Moyer Bell, page 124:
      Its superscription was my name, and the name of the sender, my mother.
    • 1983, Lawrence Durrell, Sebastian, Faber & Faber 2004 (Avignon Quintet), p. 1140:
      Schwartz glanced at the printed superscription on the envelope and grumbled as he put the envelope away in his overcoat pocket, to read at leisure.
  2. An editorial addition at the beginning, often indicating the authorship of a piece; compare colophon.
    1911 By a pure error, or perhaps through a confusion in the traditions, Achish the Philistine (of Gath, 1 Sam. xxi., xxvii.), to whom David fled, is called Abimelech in the superscription to Psalm 34.Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. The act of superscribing.

Related termsEdit