When your friend scribbles a note to you and you can’t figure out what it says, it’s because her handwriting is illegible — it’s unreadable.

The adjective illegible is often used to describe handwriting, because people tend to have their own styles and sometimes write in a pretty messy way. But it can also refer to printed words that are faded or for some other reason difficult to read. If you leave a book open in the rain, the print will probably become illegible. If you’re walking in an old graveyard, the writing on the tombstones is often illegible.

Definitions of illegible

adj (of handwriting, print, etc.) not legible

illegible handwriting”
dirty, foul, marked-up
(of a manuscript) defaced with changes
indecipherable, unclear, undecipherable, unreadable
not easily deciphered
(of handwriting, print, etc.) capable of being read or deciphered
clean, fair
(of a manuscript) having few alterations or corrections
clear, decipherable, readable
easily deciphered
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