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have (hand)writing like chicken scratch

To have very poor, messy, and/or illegible handwriting, likened to the marks made in the dirt by a chicken. I can't understand these notes at all, you have handwriting like chicken scratch!
See also: chicken, have, like, scratch

(one's) (hand)writing is like chicken scratch

One's handwriting is very poor, messy, and/or illegible, likened to the marks made in the dirt by a chicken. I can't understand these notes at all, your handwriting is like chicken scratch!
See also: chicken, like, scratch

not worth writing home about

To be not especially remarkable or noteworthy; to be rather dull, mediocre, uninteresting, or unimportant. A variant of the more common phrase "nothing to write home about." A: "Have you eaten in that new sushi restaurant yet?" B: "Yeah, I went there last week. It was OK, but it isn't worth writing home about." His performance hasn't been worth writing home about so far. To be honest, we were expecting much more from him when we recruited him out of Dartmouth.
See also: home, not, worth, writing

write a bum check

To submit a money order as payment when the account being drawn upon does not or will not have adequate funds for the order to clear. Primarily heard in US. My ex-husband was so addicted to shopping that, by the end of our marriage, he had started writing bum checks just to keep making purchases. Being in debt has always scared the hell out of me, so I've made sure to never write a bum check in my life.
See also: bum, check, write

write on water

To have a fleeting impact, as opposed to a lasting legacy. People will forget these superficial pop stars in no time—their careers are written on water.
See also: on, water, write

*in writing

in written form rather that spoken. (*Typically: get something ~; have something ~; put something ~.) Be sure to get their salary offer in writing.
See also: writing

see the (hand)writing on the wall

Fig. to know that something is about to happen. If you don't improve your performance, they'll fire you. Can't you see the writing on the wall? I know I'll get fired. I can see the handwriting on the wall.
See also: on, see, wall, writing

in writing

in the form of a document Any agreement can be canceled, even one in writing. If you want to examine these papers, you must ask in writing for permission to do it. She saw so little of her father that, when she wanted something, she would put her request in writing.
See also: writing

the writing on the wall

also the handwriting on the wall
the likelihood that something bad will happen Area residents can see the writing on the wall and realize that if they don't cooperate with the police, these crimes will continue. As leaders, they should have seen the handwriting on the wall and come up with an alternative course of action.
Usage notes: often used with see, as in the examples
Etymology: based on a story in the Bible about Daniel, who reads the handwriting on the wall that predicts the end of the kingdom of Babylon
See also: on, wall, writing

the writing is on the wall

  (British, American & Australian) also the handwriting is on the wall (American)
if the writing is on the wall for a person or an organization, it is clear that they will fail or be unable to continue (often + for ) The team has lost its last six games and the writing is definitely on the wall for the manager. (British, American & Australian)
See drive up the wall, hit a wall, nail to the wall
See also: on, wall, writing

handwriting on the wall

Also, writing on the wall. A warning or presentiment of danger, as in The company was losing money, and seeing the handwriting on the wall, she started to look for another job . This expression comes from the Bible (Daniel 5:5-31), in which the prophet interprets some mysterious writing that a disembodied hand has inscribed on the palace wall, telling King Belshazzar that he will be overthrown.
See also: handwriting, on, wall


/handwriting on the wall
An ominous indication of the course of future events: saw the writing on the wall and fled the country.

handwriting on the wall

A dire warning. The phrase comes from the Book of Daniel, in which the Persian king Belshazaar and his court see a disembodied hand appear during a feast and write on a wall, “Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin.” His seers unable to decipher the words, the king summons Daniel, who, keeping his interpretation streak intact: [see “feet of clay”], reveals that the words refer to Belshazaar's reign and his kingdom being in jeopardy. And sure enough, later that evening the king was murdered and his kingdom given to the Medes, just as Daniel had predicted. “The handwriting on the wall” or “the writing on the wall” came to refer to any prediction or omen that a venture was doomed to failure.
See also: handwriting, on, wall
References in classic literature ?
Returning to his mother's home at Lansingburg, Melville soon began the writing of 'Typee,' which was completed by the autumn of 1845.
Here Melville remained for thirteen years, occupied with his writing, and managing his farm.
Your son at the present writing is mighty well employed in tumbling on the floor of the room, and sweeping the sand with a feather.
STEELE AND ADDISON AND 'THE TATLER' AND 'THE SPECTATOR' The writings of Steele and Addison, of which the most important are their essays in 'The Tatler' and 'The Spectator,' contrast strongly with the work of Swift and are more broadly characteristic of the pseudo-classical period.
She was afraid that what she was writing would not be understood or approved by her husband.
Of course, I kept up with 'Our Mutual Friend,' which Dickens was then writing, and with 'Philip,' which was to be the last of Thackeray.
Now that I have washed up the breakfast things I should be at my writing, and I am anxious to be at it, as I have an idea in my head, which, if it is of any value, has almost certainly been put there by her.
Besides, the very article he was writing would bring her nearer to him.
The writing must have been hurried, and it had to all appearance been hurriedly dried toward the corner of a perfectly clean leaf of the blotting-paper.
The unfinished letter which she had been writing when Lady Montbarry interrupted her, lay open on the blotting-book.
Even if we have a fair chance of finding these fragments, what hope can we feel, at this distance of time, of recovering them with the writing in a state of preservation?
Each morning I did my regular day's work of writing fiction.
He cracked his knuckles and sat down, sorting out his writing appurtenances.
I recall the impulse that awakened in me to preserve those words in writing, exactly as they were spoken, while the time was my own, and while my memory vividly retained them.
Conceived in the same mood which produced "Almayer's Folly" and "An Outcast of the Islands," it is told in the same breath (with what was left of it, that is, after the end of "An Outcast"), seen with the same vision, rendered in the same method--if such a thing as method did exist then in my conscious relation to this new adventure of writing for print.