Writing up and down

One of the phrases that came up in the Swedish lessons I did yesterday on Duolingo was about writing things down, which in Swedish was skriva upp (“write up”). This seemed a bit upside down, or downside up, so I thought I’d invesigate.

Skriva upp means to book, charge, enter, note, put down, set down, take, stick, sign up or sign in [source], so in this context it’s being used to mean ‘put/set down’. A related expression is skriva upp på lista (“write up on list”), or to list.

Other expressions featuring skriva include:

  • skriva ut (“write out”) = to print, draw, check, make out, discharge
  • skriva över (“write over”) = to overwrite, replace,
  • skriva under (“write under”) = to sign, endorse, approve, subscribe
  • skriva på (“write on”) = to subscribe, commit, sign in
  • skriva om (“write about”) = to profile, rewrite
  • skriva ner (“write down”) = to dash off, record, write down
  • skriva ned (“write down”) = to bang out, set down, trace, write down. For example, skulle du kunna skriva ned det åt mig? (Could you write it down for me?)
  • skriva in (“write in”) = to key, register, book in, inscribe, pencil in, sign in
  • skriva ihop (“write together”) = to scribble, compile
  • skriva av (“write of”) = to duplicate, extract, transcribe, cancel, write off

Source: bab.la

While writing this, I realised that subscribe literally means “underwrite”, from the Latin sub- (under) and‎ scribo (write) – also the root of skrifa. However, underwrite means something different: to assume financial responsibility for something, and guarantee it against failure, or to lend support to something [source].

In English when you might write up notes you wrote down during an interview, making them more complete and detailed, or write up your diary, bringing it up-to-date. Maybe you’ll write off or write in to a newspaper and ask for your write-up be published. Maybe your debts will be written off (cancelled), and hopefully your car will not be a write-off (damaged beyond repair).

Can you think of other interesting expressions featuring write?

3 thoughts on “Writing up and down

  1. In Russian:
    записать (to write up) — to write down; to write or paint over
    записаться (to write oneself up) — to sign in, to sign up
    приписать (to write upto) — to add on (to a written document); to ascribe
    прописать (to write through) — to prescribe (a medication)
    подписать (to write under) — to sign; to subscribe or sign up (someone else)
    подписаться (to write oneself under) — to sign [without a direct object]; to subscribe or sign up (yourself)
    выписать (to write out) — to order, check out, subscribe
    написать (to write on) — to write [perfective]
    надписать (to write above) — to label
    переписать (to write across) — to rewrite
    описать (to write about) — to describe
    списать (to write off) — to copy (an assignment)
    дописать (to write until) — to finish writing
    вписать (to write in) — to write in; to fit, situate
    вписаться (to write oneself in) — to fit in
    уписать (to write around) — [mildly ironic] to devour, scarf down

  2. If you’re not on the ballot, you can be a write-in…as long as it doesn’t get overwritten.

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