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Writing Words

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Dictionary of Word Origins

The words we use to describe writing have different origins. We get the word write from writan, originally in Old English. This word meant to scratch. Primitive writing was scratching with stones on bark or scratching with quills on parchment.

Speaking of parchment, we get the word paper from papyrus, the plant that gave us the pulp on which ancient peoples wrote.

Those ancient people used quill pens to do their writing. The Latin word penna gave us the English word pen. Penna meant feather, and quill pens were really just feathers.

Today, we write much of time using pencils. The word pencil comes from Latin as well. This word is penicillum, which meant "little tail." Writers of old used tiny brushes, which looked like little tails.

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