It’s Wednesday again so time for a new word of the week. This week’s word is…

graffiti

Originally this is an Italian word meaning engravings or scratched drawings. It’s the plural form of the word graffito.

Related Italian words are graffio (a scratch) and graffiare (to scratch).

These Italian words are related to the ancient Greek words graphion and graphein. The latter one means ‘to write’ and is also the source of the English suffix ‘-graphy’.

In archeology the word graffiti encompasses a type of art where a drawing or text was scratched into wet mortar on walls of a building. In ancient Greece and in the Roman empire it was already used for protest texts and poems. Since this technique was mostly used on walls, the word graffiti later also became common for other types of drawings on walls.

The modern spray can graffiti probably originated in US state Philadelphia in the 1960’s.

It will be hard to find a city in Europe or the US without any graffitti in public areas. It has become very popular and many cities have stopped trying to forbid it. Instead they allow for certain areas to be legally painted in graffiti which has resulted in very beautiful and sometimes iconic pieces of art. Who doesn’t know the kiss on the Berlin wall?

Word of the Week: Graffiti

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