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16.5: The Free Bases scribe and script

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Free Bases scribe and script

1. Scribe and script mean “write, writing.” They work in partnership like other pairs of bases with which you have been working:

Verbs Nouns
circumscribe circumscription
describe description
inscribe inscription
prescribe prescription
proscribe proscription
subscribe subscription
transcribe transcription

Sort the fourteen words into this matrix:

Words with the base . . .
script scribe
















2. In this array the base scribe is used to form verbs, and the base script is used to form nouns.

3. Analyze the following words into prefixes, bases, and suffixes:

Word Analysis
description de + script + ion
indescribable in + de + scribe+ able
inscribes in + scribe + s
inscription in + script + ion
prescriptions pre + script + ion + s
subscriber sub + scribe+ er
transcript trans+ script
postscript post + script
descriptively de + script + ive+ ly
scriptures script + ure + s
prescribing pre + scribe+ ing
subscript sub + script
scriptural script + ure+ al
circumscribed circum + scribe+ ed
transcribing trans+ scribe+ ing
manuscript manu + script
proscribed pro + scribe+ ed
proscription pro + script + ion
scriptwriter script + write+ er
nondescript non + de + script
superscript super + script

Word Histories. The words subscript and superscript come from Latin words that meant “written under” and “written above.” That is exactly what subscripts and superscripts are, things that are written under or above something else:


The base manu in manuscript means “hand”: Originally, a manuscript was something written by hand.

Teaching Notes.

Item 1. Both scribe and script derive from the Latin verb scri¯bere “to mark, draw, write.” Script comes from the past participle form, scriptus; scribe comes from the stem of the infinitive.

Proscribe “to condemn” and proscription “a condemnation” have the root meaning “to write forth, to make public.” Their Latin versions were used especially to describe public acts of condemnation; thus the modern sense. Subscribe has the root meaning “to put one's signature under—especially an accusation. Describe has the root meaning “to write from,” meaning to copy a model.

Item 3. The <s>-deletion in transcript and transcribing is due to a constraint in English against clusters of consonants of three or more that contain a doublet consonant. So it is transcript (trans + script) rather than transscript. For more on this constraint see AES, pp. 77-79.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
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Jul 07, 2015
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