It is written

This time of year, I always take my checkbook and write the new year in the date area on half a dozen checks or so. That lasts me until I’m sure I’ve gotten into the habit of writing the new date without having to think about it. If I did happen to write 2010 on a check this week, though, it would be obvious that it was a scrivener’s error. This term is used in law to refer to a clerical error that has resulted in an obvious typo, and as such shouldn’t be enforced as written. For example, if a defendant signs a waiver of his speedy trial rights this week and extends them to, say, April 15, 2010, he won’t be able to come back later and say that his case should be dismissed because his speedy trial rights were violated when he didn’t get tried by that date. The 2010 is obviously a scrivener’s error and will be corrected without affecting the case.

In my wordfreak brain, even before I’d had any caffeine this morning, all I had to do was think about this for my mind to go running down the etymology path. I could think of a handful on my own, but when I went to the dictionaries, I realized that “scrivener” is actually one of dozens of words in English and Spanish that originate from the Latin word scribere, to write. My discoveries follow. I didn’t include every related form of some words, and the list is still quite lengthy. Please let me know in the comments if you can think of any I missed!

Scribble Conscript/conscription Escrituración, registration
Scribe Subscript Escriturar, to register
Scriptures Superscript Escriturístico, scriptural
Scrip Escribir, to write Suscrito, undersigned
Scripophily Escrituras, writings or Scriptures Proscribir/proscripción, ban or outlaw
Script Escriba, scribe Proscrito, outlaw (person) or political exile
Scrivener Escribanía, desk, inkstand, notary’s office Describir/descripción
Scriptorium Escribidor, scribbler Prescribir/prescripción
Describe/description Escribiente, clerk Subscribir/subscripción
Proscribe/proscription Escrito, written (adj.), document, written exam, brief (legal doc) Script (used as is in film industry)
Prescribe/prescription Escritor, writer
Subscribe/subscription Escritorio, desk, office, study

About Verla

Wordfreak. Retired private investigator and Spanish court interpreter. Erstwhile librarian. Texan by birth, cheesehead by upbringing, latina by soul, in New Mexico by choice. Lover of things purple. Passionate participant in the Librivox audiobook recording project. We record books that are in the public domain in the U.S. The recordings are then placed in the public domain themselves.
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