mid-15c., scriblen, "to write (something) quickly and carelessly, without regard to correctness or elegance," from Medieval Latin scribillare, diminutive of Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut"). Or perhaps a native formation from Middle English scriben "to write" (see scribe (v.)) + diminutive suffix -el (3). Classical Latin had conscribillare. The sense of "make unintelligible tangled lines on paper out of idleness or for amusement" is modern. Related: Scribbled; scribbling.
The noun, "hurried or careless writing," is 1570s, from the verb. The 19c. writers enjoyed the sound of scribble, based on their many elaborations of it in describing one another: scribblage, scribblative, scribblatory, scribbleable, scribbledom, but the 17c., beat them to two of the best: scribblement and scribble-wit.
updated on March 01, 2022