in·​scrip·​tion | \ in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio) \

Definition of inscription

1a : something that is inscribed also : superscription
c : the wording on a coin, medal, seal, or currency note
2 : the dedication of a book or work of art
3a : the act of inscribing
b : the entering of a name on or as if on a list : enrollment
4 British
a : the act of inscribing securities
b inscriptions plural : inscribed securities

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Other Words from inscription

inscriptional \ in-​ˈskrip-​shnəl How to pronounce inscriptional (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ 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.

Examples of inscription in a Sentence

The painting had an inscription that read, “To my loving wife.” the inscription on a stone monument
Recent Examples on the Web The sum total of records from the plague itself is scanty: three letters by Mompesson written in 1666, the parish’s burial register and inscriptions on graves scattered around the village. 1843, "Eyam revisited: lessons from a plague village," 16 Apr. 2020 Only the inscriptions, which include a ship and a sacred heart, set it apart from the rest. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Has This Boulder’s Mysterious, Centuries-Old Inscription Finally Been Deciphered?," 28 Feb. 2020 While scholars have generally agreed on how to read the inscriptions, the exact meaning of the runic characters and cryptic passages has been elusive -- until now. Michelle Lim, CNN, "Riddles on ancient Viking monument may signal fears of cold climate crisis, study says," 9 Jan. 2020 But epigraphists have argued more recently that the Greek used on the inscription was rare outside of Greece and Turkey. Ann Gibbons, Science | AAAS, "Tablet thought to have guarded tombs after Jesus’s death may not be what it seems," 28 Feb. 2020 Researchers have known about the boulder's enigmatic message since 1979, but the language of the full inscription was puzzling, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported in December 2019. Fox News, "Mysterious, centuries-old rock inscription finally deciphered," 28 Feb. 2020 Joel Lion, the Israeli ambassador in Ukraine, tweeted a picture Monday of the monument in Kryvyi Rih with the inscription covered in spray paint., "News of the Day From Around the World, Jan. 20," 20 Jan. 2020 The key to unlocking the inscription was the interdisciplinary approach. Michelle Lim, CNN, "Riddles on ancient Viking monument may signal fears of cold climate crisis, study says," 9 Jan. 2020 McMurtry’s first book, with a long inscription to the guy who published early drafts of the story in a literary magazine. Randy Kennedy, New York Times, "Richard Prince: This Ain’t No Retrospective, It’s a Rodeo," 2 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of inscription

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

History and Etymology for inscription

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

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Time Traveler for inscription

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for inscription

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inscription.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for inscription


How to pronounce inscription (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inscription

: words that are written on or cut into a surface


in·​scrip·​tion | \ in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio) \

Kids Definition of inscription

: words or a name inscribed on a surface


in·​scrip·​tion | \ in-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce inscription (audio) \

Medical Definition of inscription

: the part of a medical prescription that contains the names and quantities of the drugs to be compounded

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