Definition of write in English:

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Pronunciation: /rʌɪt/

verb (past wrote /rəʊt/; past participle written /ˈrɪt(ə)n/)

[with object]
1Mark (letters, words, or other symbols) on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement: he wrote his name on the paper Alice wrote down the address [no object]: he wrote very neatly in blue ink
More example sentences
  • If you don't have pieces of paper or placards, write these words on your hands and on your faces.
  • I folded a large piece of paper in half and wrote the words they told me on the left side.
  • In contrast to the full page of notebook paper the words were written on, what was said was short.
put in writing, write down, put down, put in black and white, commit to paper, jot down, note, note down, make a note of, set down, take down, mark down, record, register, log, list, make a list of, inscribe, sign, scribble, scrawl, pencil
1.1 [no object] Have the ability to mark coherent letters or words: he couldn’t read or write
More example sentences
  • A stroke can affect your ability to read and write and even if you can talk, sometimes the words don't come out in the correct order.
  • Thereafter, lacking the ability to read and write, they were unable to cope with an education that assumed the existence of these skills.
  • It is clear that higher education is a sector predicated upon the ability to read and write accurately.
1.2Fill in or complete (a sheet, cheque, or similar): he had to write a cheque for £800
More example sentences
  • My mother has never paid a bill, written a cheque or drawn money from the bank in her life.
  • If you pay on a normal credit bill and write a cheque or pay by giro, you can save up to a maximum of 13 per cent if you change to direct debit.
  • I was invited to sit down and was immediately told who to write my cheque out to with a laminated sheet of details and conditions.
1.3Canadian & South African Take (an exam or test): I wrote Prof. Weldon’s Middle English exam last week
More example sentences
  • I wrote my English exam today, so it was nice to get that out of the way.
  • A student writing an exam could hide a small FM receiver and earpiece under long hair.
  • Hopefully that luck is with them when they write their final exams.
1.4 [no object] Write in a cursive hand, as opposed to printing individual letters.
Example sentences
  • It was a small white envelope, his address written with golden cursive penmanship.
  • I picked it up and was mildly surprised to see my name written in perfect cursive across the front.
  • It was complete with a neon sign of a sliver of a moon, with the name written in glowing blue cursive over it.
2Compose, write, and send (a letter) to someone: I wrote a letter to Alison [with two objects]: I wrote him a short letter [no object]: he wrote almost every day Eleanor wrote to her sister Laura in Paris
More example sentences
  • I wrote to him just to say what a great job he was doing and how proud to be a New Zealander he made me, and he took the trouble to write a lovely letter back.
  • He wrote letters and he sent them through a talk show producer and asked the talk show producer to get it to a family member.
  • So I wrote the letter and sent it that evening before I went to bed.
correspond, write a letter, communicate, get in touch, keep in touch, keep in contact
informal drop someone a line, drop someone a note
2.1chiefly North American Write and send a letter to: Mother wrote me and told me about poor Simon’s death
More example sentences
  • Shortly after that visit home, she wrote me to ask if she could borrow $250.
  • We met because I took out her best friend, and she wrote me to tease me about it.
  • Next morning he wrote her to come.
2.2 [no object] (write in) Write to an organization, newspaper, etc. with a question, suggestion, or opinion: write in with your query
More example sentences
  • As regards the framing, lots of people wrote in with similar suggestions.
  • A meeting was held at the school and parents were invited to write in with suggestions for alternative names.
  • After each new edition, hundreds write in with suggestions and the occasional correction.
3Compose (a text or work) for written or printed reproduction or publication; put into literary form and set down in writing: she wrote a bestselling novel I didn’t know you wrote poetry [no object]: he wrote under a pseudonym he had written about the beauty of Andalusia
More example sentences
  • I'm the only president whose ever written a novel and I've written a book of poetry in the past as well.
  • We know he was interested in American literature, for he wrote an essay each on Whitman and Thoreau.
  • He literally wrote a book on the subject, shortly after his second daughter, Justine, was born.
compose, draft, create, invent, think up, draw up, formulate, compile, put together, pen, dash off, produce
3.1Compose (a musical work): he has written a song specifically for her
More example sentences
  • There are some wonderful musical works written by composers who were perhaps not so great as people.
  • Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children.
  • He's already scheduled to begin writing his own musical with a local composer.
3.2 (write someone into/out of) Add or remove a character to or from (a long-running story or series).
Example sentences
  • He added, ‘I'm starting to think they want to write me out of the series for next season.'
  • Would you like me to write you out of the story altogether?
  • It meant he had to wrack his brains over how to write Jeff out of the story - he was, after all, Steve's best mate.
3.3 archaic Describe in writing: if I could write the beauty of your eyes
More example sentences
  • Write with the knowledge of death on your shoulder, write the beauty of the red leafed begonia, remember winter, write with compassion.
  • To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry.
  • If all the water of the oceans became ink, it will not be enough to write the Greatness of Allah.
4 [with object and adverbial] Computing Enter (data) into a specified storage medium or location in store: files can be read and written directly into the file system
More example sentences
  • Details are written to a file named after the IP address of the Ethernet on each ARM.
  • Every time a host application writes a transaction to the local disk storage subsystem, a data protection appliance writes it in parallel to the local compatible appliance.
  • The application can seek, read, an write bytes to the stream as it is a local file.
5Underwrite (an insurance policy).
Example sentences
  • The doctors found that no established insurer would write them a policy - at any price.
  • Our policies had been extended for two months because the insurance company employee who wrote them had gone on vacation.
  • We only have five malpractice insurance companies writing policies in northeast Ohio.



be nothing to write home about

informal Be very mediocre or unexceptional.
Example sentences
  • The coral cover was nothing to write home about and the usual reef fish-life seemed poor.
  • Alas, most of the food is nothing to write home about: the salad dressing is quite bland, the shrimps are fresh though boring, and, incredibly, garlic is nowhere to be found.
  • It got mediocre but promising ratings in the first season - nothing to write home about, but enough to warrant a second season.

be (or have something) written all over one (or one's face)

informal Used to convey that the presence of a particular quality or feeling is clearly revealed by a person’s expression: guilt was written all over his face
More example sentences
  • Four of the five goals had quality written all over them, several of the points were also out of the top drawer, and there were several individual performances on both sides that further embellished this magnificent game.
  • She started running, panic clearly written all over her face.
  • Vicky spoke out, excitement clearly written all over her face.

be written in stone

see stone.

(and) that's all she wrote

North American informal Used to convey that there is or was nothing more to be said about a matter: every month, you pay $49.95 and that’s all she wrote
More example sentences
  • Someone pops a vial and pour it into a cocktail and that's the end of the story, that's all she wrote.
  • A couple of pizzas and some cold beers and that's all she wrote.
  • ‘The Hurt of It All ‘voices the poet's farewell, saying ‘that's all she wrote.’

Phrasal verbs


write something down

Reduce the nominal value of stock or goods.
Example sentences
  • The stocks had been written down and a book profit was realisable.
  • As a result, over $82 million of borrowings were written down to $20 million and the company will be able to keep going for another bit.
  • How far those assets have been written down over the years, no one knows.

write someone in

chiefly US (When voting) add the name of someone not on the original list of candidates and vote for them.
Example sentences
  • The Chronicle and several other local papers exposed the plan after an 18-year old was recruited to run, but then changed his mind when he found out that he had been written in as a Democratic candidate.
  • I shook his hand just before the primary up here and told him I was a registered Republican and I was writing him in on my ballot.
  • Even though his name wasn't on the ballot, he was written in by nearly half of the voters.

write something off

1 (write someone/thing off) Dismiss someone or something as insignificant: they were written off as a bunch of no-hopers
More example sentences
  • But the boys were up for it, mainly because we had been written off and it was the last chance to win anything.
  • No-one gave us a chance and when we were five points down at half-time everyone wrote us off but the team went out in the second half and won by five.
  • The football world wrote us off as another lower league casualty, but we did not give up.
disregard, regard as finished, consider unimportant, dismiss, ignore
2Cancel the record of a bad debt; acknowledge the loss of or failure to recover an asset: he urged the banks to write off debt owed by poorer countries
More example sentences
  • Rather than report it as fraud, they simply write it off as a bad debt.
  • Some debts are written off, although creditors are reluctant to do so.
  • The essential problem is that as fast as bad debts are written off new ones are created by the deflationary contraction in the economy.
forget about, disregard, give up on, give up for lost, cancel, annul, nullify, wipe out, cross out, score out
2.1British Damage a vehicle so badly that it cannot be repaired or is not worth repairing.
Example sentences
  • A claimant whose motor car is damaged by the negligent driving of the defendant will either incur expense in putting right the damage or discard the vehicle, i.e., write it off as uneconomic to repair.
  • Magistrates heard that the man used a concrete slab to smash every window in the vehicle and cause such extensive damage that the vehicle was written off by the insurance company.
  • He said at least two vehicles were written off and that the total cost of the damage could amount to £150,000 though the final figures were still not known.
wreck, damage beyond repair, smash, smash up, crash, destroy, demolish, ruin
British informal prang
North American informal total

write something up

Write a full or formal account of something: I was too tired to write up my notes
More example sentences
  • If you see a major or even minor local event, write it up and send your account, along with any pictures you capture on your mobile phone or digital camera.
  • The journalist in The Chronicle wrote them up today and reported on inconsistency over several visits.
  • Stacey also argues that, when the research is written up, it is the feminist ethnographer's interpretations and judgements that come through and that have authority.
4.1Make entries to bring a diary or similar record up to date: he wrote up a work journal which has never been published
More example sentences
  • His recollections were written up in a diary which has been kept by his daughter Mary.
  • And what I did was collect the stories during the daytime and I wrote them up on the lap-top in the evening.
  • Field notes from home visits were written up after leaving the site.



Pronunciation: /ˈrʌɪtəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • So the ‘old’ idea of combining read-only and writable sectors has resurfaced to facilitate the rise of e-books, but now it benefits from the new reality that practically every computer has a CD-ROM reader.
  • To burn a DVD, you'll need a writable DVD drive, but the miniDVD is essentially DVD-formatted video on a standard CD-R disc that plays only on a computer.
  • In this aggressive environment, optical technology is proving its value as a high-capacity, long data life, random-access writable technology.


Old English wrītan 'score, form (letters) by carving, write', of Germanic origin; related to German reissen 'sketch, drag'.

  • The idea behind write in the ancient Germanic languages was ‘to score or carve’—people in northern Europe would have written first by inscribing letters on wood. The original meaning in Old English was ‘to draw or outline the shape of something’. The first person to use the phrase nothing to write home about, meaning ‘be mediocre or unexceptional’, appears to have been the comic writer Ian Hay in 1914. Hay was also a soldier who served in the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross, and the expression was probably a military one ( see also fun). If you say that a particular quality or feeling is written all over someone's face, you are echoing Shakespeare. In Measure for Measure Duke Vincentio says: ‘There is written in your brow, Provost, honesty, and constancy.’ See also wall

Words that rhyme with write

affright, alight, alright, aright, bedight, bight, bite, blight, bright, byte, cite, dight, Dwight, excite, fight, flight, fright, goodnight, height, ignite, impolite, indict, indite, invite, kite, knight, light, lite, might, mite, night, nite, outfight, outright, plight, polite, quite, right, rite, sight, site, skintight, skite, sleight, slight, smite, Snow-white, spite, sprite, tight, tonight, trite, twite, underwrite, unite, uptight, white, wight, wright

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: write

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