Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


to draw patterns or pictures because you are bored or thinking about other things

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The verb and noun doodle come from a Low German word ‘dudeltopf’ or ‘dudeldopp’ meaning ‘foolish person’ and when the noun started to be used in English in the 17th century it meant ‘fool’. The current meanings date from the first half of the 20th century.


To doodle is to draw when you are distracted or bored, and a doodle is what you produce when you doodle. Doodle also occurs in the expression cock-a-doodle-doo, which is how the sound made by a cock (or rooster in American English) is represented in English. The terms are not related;  cock-a-doodle-doo, which has been around since the 16th century with various spellings, is simply an attempt to reproduce the bird’s crowing call. Doodle also occurs in the American popular song Yankee Doodle or Yankee Doodle Dandy, where its meaning is unknown.


I learned how to draw from being bored in school. I would doodle on the margins of my paper.
(Kevin Nealon, comedian)

I know only two tunes: one of them is ‘Yankee Doodle‘, and the other isn’t.
(Ulysses S Grant)

Related words

draw, sketch, trace, scribble

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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