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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 (countable and uncountable, plural writs)

  1. (law) A written order, issued by a court, ordering someone to do (or stop doing) something.
  2. Authority, power to enforce compliance.
    • 2009, Stephen Gale et al., The War on Terrorism: 21st-Century Perspectives[1], Transaction Publishers, →ISBN, page 30:
      We can't let them take advantage of the fact that there are so many areas of the world where no one's writ runs.
    • 1913, Elizabeth Kimball Kendall, A Wayfarer in China
      Within Lololand, of course, no Chinese writ runs, no Chinese magistrate holds sway, and the people, more or less divided among themselves, are under the government of their tribal chiefs.
  3. (archaic) That which is written; writing.
    • Spenser
      Then to his hands that writ he did betake, / Which he disclosing read, thus as the paper spake.
    • Knolles
      Babylon, so much spoken of in Holy Writ


Derived termsEdit



  • 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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.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.)



  1. (archaic, nonstandard) past tense of write
  2. (archaic, nonstandard) past participle of write
    • c. 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II scene iv[3]:
      I know the hand: in faith, 'tis a fair hand;
      And whiter than the paper it writ on
      Is the fair hand that writ.
    • 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. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: Printed by 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.

Usage notesEdit

  • The form writ survives in standard dialects only in the phrase writ large, though it remains common in some dialects (e.g. Scouse).

Derived termsEdit





  1. Romanization of 𐍅𐍂𐌹𐍄

Old EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Proto-Germanic *writą, whence also Old High German riz, Old Norse rit


writ n (nominative plural writu)

  1. writ


Derived termsEdit