handwriting

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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

the (hand)writing is on the wall

There are very apparent signs that something bad will happen in the future. The phrase comes from the Biblical story of Daniel, 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. You need to resign now. The writing is on the wall, and there's no reason you need to go down with this company when it folds. The handwriting is on the wall for many aquatic species, but there is hope that we can make some changes to save some of them.
See also: on, wall

the (hand)writing on the wall

The very apparent signs that something bad will happen in the future. The phrase comes from the Biblical story of Daniel, 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. You need to resign now. The writing on the wall says the company is going to fold, and there's no reason you need to go down with it. The handwriting on the wall bodes poorly for many aquatic species, but there is hope that we can make some changes to save some of them.
See also: on, wall

read the handwriting on the wall

Fig. to anticipate what is going to happen by observing small hints and clues. (See also see the (hand)writing on the wall.) I know I am going to be fired. I can read the handwriting on the wall. Can't you read the handwriting on the wall? Can't you see what they are planning?
See also: handwriting, on, read, wall

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

the writing is on the wall

mainly BRITISH or

the handwriting is on the wall

mainly AMERICAN
COMMON If you say the writing is on the wall or the handwriting is on the wall, you mean that there are clear signs that a situation is going to become difficult or unpleasant, or that something or someone is going to fail. The writing is clearly on the wall. If we do nothing about it, we shall only have ourselves to blame. The handwriting was on the wall for Peters when she lost the first set 6-1 in less than 20 minutes. Note: You can call something the writing on the wall or the handwriting on the wall when it seems to be a sign of something unpleasant which is likely to happen in the future. He saw the writing on the wall and knew he had to get out of the company before it collapsed. Note: This expression comes from a Bible story in which a mysterious hand appears and writes a message on the wall, announcing that Belshazzar's kingdom will soon come to an end. (Daniel 5)
See also: on, wall, writing

the writing is on the wall

there are clear signs that something unpleasant or unwelcome is going to happen.
This phrase comes from the biblical story of Belshazzar's feast, at which a disembodied hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall foretelling the fall of the Babylonian kingdom to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:5, 25–8). A North American variant is the handwriting is on the wall .
1998 Spectator We ought to have spotted the writing on the wall when the dear old Ministry of Works became ‘English Heritage’, packaging the past as a set of limited-edition, special-offer collectables.
See also: on, wall, writing

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