From Middle English writ, iwrit, ȝewrit, from Old English writ (“letter, book, treatise; scripture, writing; writ, charter, document, deed”) and ġewrit (“writing, something written, written language; written character, bookstave; inscription; orthography; written statement, passage from a book; official or formal document, document; law, jurisprudence; regulation; list, catalog; letter; text of an agreement; writ, charter, deed; literary writing, book, treatise; books dealing with a subject under notice; a book of the Bible; scripture, canonical book, the Scriptures; stylus”), from Proto-Germanic *writą (“fissure, writing”), from Proto-Indo-European *wrey-, *wrī- (“to scratch, carve, ingrave”). Cognate with Scots writ (“writ, writing, handwriting”), Icelandic rit (“writing, writ, literary work, publication”).
writ (plural writs)
- (law) A written order, issued by a court, ordering someone to do (or stop doing) something.
- Authority, power to enforce compliance.
- (archaic) That which is written; writing.
- Then to his hands that writ he did betake, / Which he disclosing read, thus as the paper spake.
- Babylon, so much spoken of in Holy Writ
- claim form (English law)
- Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for writ in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)
- (archaic, nonstandard) past tense of
- (archaic, nonstandard) past participle of
- John Dryden
- Let Virtuosos in five years be writ; / Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit. (Mac Flecknoe)
- Omar Khayyam (in translation)
- The moving finger writes, and having writ, not all your piety or wit can lure it back to cancel half a line […]
1749, Henry Fielding, chapter I, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, London: A[ndrew] Millar, OCLC 928184292, book IV:
- For as this is the liquor of modern historians, nay, perhaps their muse, if we may believe the opinion of Butler, who attributes inspiration to ale, it ought likewise to be the potation of their readers, since every book ought to be read with the same spirit and in the same manner as it is writ.
- John Dryden
- The form writ survives in standard dialects only in the phrase writ large, though it remains common in some dialects (e.g. Scouse).