In English, there are separate words for different kinds of careless marks made while writing or drawing. We have blot for a dark stain made by ink, scrawl for illegible handwriting, scribble for something written or drawn in a hurry, and doodle for a poorly drawn picture.
In Italian, all these concepts can be expressed with one very handy word: scarabocchio (masculine, plural: scarabocchi).
Interestingly scarabocchio comes from the word scarabeo which is the word for scarab beetle in Italian.
It was thought that an ink blot (macchia d’inchiostro), with its abstract pattern of black splotches, resembled the figure of a scarab. Would you agree?
Let’s get back to our word of the day. Here is an example with a phrase:
Questa firma è uno scarabocchio indecifrabile. Tu riesci a leggerla?
This signature is an indecipherable scribble. Can you read it?
Derived from scarabocchio is the verb scarabocchiare which means to scribble all over something, or to throw something together quickly such as a draft or letter.
Ha scarabocchiato un paio di paragrafi per la presentazione di domani.
He/she threw a few paragraphs together for tomorrow’s presentation.
Scarabocchio is also a pejorative term for an unattractive person.
Finally, we have the diminutive scarabocchietto (little scribble) and augmentative scarabocchione (big scribble). The latter is also a noun describing a person who makes a lot of scarabocchi, has sloppy writing or does bad drawings.