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Ruler vs. Scribble: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on May 31, 2024
Ruler is a tool for measuring or drawing straight lines, while Scribble is a hastily or carelessly written or drawn mark or text.

Key Differences

The word "Ruler" typically brings to mind a straight-edged instrument, commonly made of wood, plastic, or metal, designed to aid in measuring distances or drawing straight lines. On the other hand, "Scribble" paints a picture of hasty or careless writing or drawing, often unintelligible and without much thought.
While a Ruler stands as a symbol of precision and order, a Scribble can represent chaos or hurriedness. In many settings, especially academic or professional ones, the use of a Ruler is to ensure accuracy.
In contrast, a Scribble might be the outcome when someone is rushing to jot down notes or when a child is expressing creativity without any constraints.
It's fascinating how Ruler and Scribble, both related to the act of writing or drawing, can have such contrasting implications: one embodies meticulousness, and the other spontaneity.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

A tool for measuring or drawing straight lines
Hasty or careless writing or drawing


Precision tasks, drafting, schoolwork
Quick notes, doodling, inattentive drawing or writing


Engineering drawings, school geometry
Hastily written reminders, children's doodles


Accuracy, straightness, order
Spontaneity, chaos, hurriedness

Grammatical Role

Noun (can also be a verb: to scribble)

Ruler and Scribble Definitions


A dominant or influential person in a particular field.
In the fashion industry, she is considered a ruler due to her innovative designs.


To cover with meaningless marks.
The toddler scribbled all over the wall with crayons.


A straight-edged tool for measuring distances or drawing straight lines.
He used a ruler to draw the margins on his project.


To produce in a hasty, careless manner.
He scribbled an apology letter at the last minute.


A person who exercises authority over a region, people, or country.
The ruler of the kingdom was known for his fairness.


To write hastily or carelessly.
She had to scribble a note before she forgot the idea.


An instrument displaying a range of scales or measurements.
The architect's ruler had various scales for different measurements.


A piece of writing or drawing that is done quickly or carelessly.
His notebook was full of scribbles from the lecture.


A guiding principle or standard.
Honesty is the ruler by which he measures all his actions.


Informal or rough writing or drawing.
I love to scribble in my journal before bed.


One, such as a monarch or dictator, that rules or governs.


To write (a note, for example) hurriedly without heed to legibility or style.


A straightedged strip, as of wood or metal, for drawing straight lines and measuring lengths. Also called rule.


To draw (a picture) hurriedly or carelessly.


A (usually rigid), flat, rectangular measuring or drawing device with graduations in units of measurement; a straightedge with markings.


To write in a hurried careless way.


A person who rules or governs; someone or something that exercises dominion or controlling power over others.


To make meaningless marks, as with a pen or pencil.


(transitive) To beat with a ruler (as a traditional school punishment).


Careless hurried writing.


One who rules; one who exercises sway or authority; a governor.
And he made him ruler over all the land.
A prince and ruler of the land.


Meaningless marks and lines.


Measuring stick consisting of a strip of wood or metal or plastic with a straight edge that is used for drawing straight lines and measuring lengths


(ambitransitive) To write or draw carelessly and in a hurry.
I suddenly remembered I needed to buy bleach, so scribbled it down on my shopping list.


A person who rules or commands;
Swayer of the universe


To doodle.


To write badly; to work as an inferior author or journalist.


To card or tease (wool) coarsely; to run through a scribbler.


Careless, hasty writing, doodle or drawing


To card coarsely; to run through the scribbling machine.


To write hastily or carelessly, without regard to correctness or elegance; as, to scribble a letter.


To fill or cover with careless or worthless writing.


To write without care, elegance, or value; to scrawl.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite.


Hasty or careless writing; a writing of little value; a scrawl; as, a hasty scribble.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spendIn this my scribble.


Poor handwriting


An aimless drawing


Write down quickly without much attention to detail


Write carelessly


Is "scribble" always negative in connotation?

No, "scribble" can be neutral or even positive when referring to informal or spontaneous creativity.

Can a ruler be digital?

Yes, there are digital rulers in graphic design software for precision measurements.

Are rulers only used in schools?

No, rulers are used in various professions, especially in fields like architecture, engineering, and art.

Can a "scribble" be intentional art?

Yes, scribbles can be a form of artistic expression, especially in abstract art.

Can "ruler" refer to someone in power?

Yes, a "ruler" can mean someone who governs or leads, like a king or queen.

Can "scribble" be a verb?

Yes, "to scribble" means to write or draw hastily or carelessly.

Are rulers only straight-edged?

While most common rulers are straight-edged, there are also curved or flexible rulers.

Are there rulers longer than 12 inches?

Yes, there are various lengths of rulers, including yardsticks and metersticks.

What materials are rulers typically made of?

Rulers are commonly made of wood, plastic, or metal.

Can rulers measure angles?

Rulers typically measure length, but combined with a protractor, they can help measure angles.

Can "scribble" refer to text that's hard to read?

Yes, if someone's handwriting is difficult to decipher, it might be referred to as a "scribble."

Is "scribble" informal in usage?

Generally, "scribble" is considered informal, especially when referring to quick or careless writing.

Can "scribble" be used in a positive context?

Yes, "scribble" can indicate spontaneous creativity or informal jotting of valuable ideas.

Can "scribble" refer to a child's drawing?

Yes, young children's drawings, often without clear form, are commonly called "scribbles."

Can a ruler be a software tool?

Yes, many digital design programs include a virtual "ruler" tool for measurements and alignments.

Is "scribble" related to "scribes" historically?

While both deal with writing, "scribe" refers to a professional writer or copier, while "scribble" suggests hastiness or carelessness.

Can "ruler" also refer to a guiding principle?

Yes, "ruler" can metaphorically mean a standard by which something is judged.

Is a "ruler" the same as a "tape measure"?

No, while both are measuring tools, a ruler is typically rigid and straight, while a tape measure is flexible.

Is "scribbling" a stage in children's artistic development?

Yes, scribbling is an early stage in a child's drawing development, preceding representational art.

Can "scribble" be used in digital contexts?

Yes, with the rise of digital pens and tablets, one can "scribble" notes or drawings electronically.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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