in·​scrip·​tion in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio)
: something that is inscribed
: the wording on a coin, medal, seal, or currency note
: the dedication of a book or work of art
: the act of inscribing
: the entering of a name on or as if on a list : enrollment
: the act of inscribing securities
inscriptions plural : inscribed securities
inscriptional adjective

Did you know?

With its prefix in-, meaning "in" or "on", it's not surprising that an inscription is either written on or engraved into a surface. Inscriptions in the ancient world were always chiseled into stone, as inscriptions still may be today. The principal monument of the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C., for instance, is a black wall on which are inscribed the names of all the Americans who died during the war—each name in full, row upon seemingly endless row. But an inscription may also be a dedication, such as the words "For my wife" all by themselves on a page near the beginning of a book.

Example Sentences

The painting had an inscription that read, “To my loving wife.” the inscription on a stone monument
Recent Examples on the Web In 2014, after unearthing an unusual coin engraved with an Arabic inscription at a pick-your-own-fruit orchard in Middletown, Rhode Island, Bailey began retracing Every's steps. CBS News, 8 Dec. 2022 The team also identified an inscription that may show the name of Mukīn-abūa, a Neo-Assyrian official who served during the reign of Adad-nirari III between 783 and 811 BC. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 10 May 2022 An inscription on a stone found atop the cliff commemorating a voyage that set sail around 1950 B.C. lists a labor force of 3,756 men, 3,200 of them conscripted workers. Andrew Curry, Discover Magazine, 5 Sep. 2011 Langlois arced his phone slowly over the inscription, shining light over the words from different angles. Chanan Tigay, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Jan. 2023 The stone, according to the Greek inscription, was a decree. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2022 Alex smoothed her hand over the inscription on its edge. Nick Romano,, 12 Dec. 2022 On the back of the disk, an inscription identifies her as Enheduanna, a high priestess and the daughter of King Sargon. Elizabeth Winkler, The New Yorker, 19 Nov. 2022 This year has also seen the formation of a new destination management organization and the successful completion of Djerba’s Unesco World Heritage application (with official inscription anticipated in 2023). WSJ, 9 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inscription.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English inscripcioun, from Latin inscription-, inscriptio, from inscribere

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of inscription was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near inscription

Cite this Entry

“Inscription.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​scrip·​tion in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio)
: something that is inscribed

Medical Definition


in·​scrip·​tion in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio)
: the part of a medical prescription that contains the names and quantities of the drugs to be compounded
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