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John Hancock's signature on the United States Declaration of Independence is famous for its size and its bold paraph.

From Middle French paraphe, paraffe.


Elizabeth I of England's signature, showing paraph


Benjamin Franklin's signature, showing paraph

paraph (plural paraphs)

  1. A flourish made after or below one's signature, originally to prevent forgery.
  2. A mark used by medieval rubricators to indicate textual division.
    • 2016 October 3, “It’s A Wrap”, in Research Group on Manuscript Evidence[1]:
      Commencing with a C-shaped paraph-sign in the same brown ink, the glosses are linked to their corresponding passages by alphabetic signs comprising single letters in a sequence beginning with a in each margin, moving on to b, c, and d down the page, and, ideally, linking with the same letter in the adjacent column. Such a pairing allows for matching the gloss with the specific location in the text where its comment should be considered.



paraph (third-person singular simple present paraphs, present participle paraphing, simple past and past participle paraphed)

  1. (transitive) To add a paraph to; to sign, especially with one's initials.