How did “to draw” shift to mean “to depict with lines”?

“To draw” originally meant “to drag, pull”, and it’s pretty easy to make sense of the many meanings of the verb with that in mind.

Draw a sword, draw a card, draw water from a well, draw breath, a drawer, withdraw, …

Even for the most farfetched ones, I can see the figurative stretch. But not for the main meaning of the verb.

What does “to produce artwork” have to do with pulling or dragging?

btw I’m not sure if I cann technically call it a semantic shift if the original meaning is still in use.


Emerging ca. 1200, draw in the graphic sense comes from drawing some implement or material — pen, pencil, chalk, etc. — across an appropriate surface:

Draw thanne by thi rewle a lyne fro the hed of aries to the hed of libra.— Equatorie of the Planets, Ms. Cambridge, Peterhouse 75, ca. 1392.

(A rough translation into modern English, from the comments: “Draw then using your ruler a line from the head of Aries to the head of Libra.”)

Source : Link , Question Author : Teleporting Goat , Answer Author : KarlG

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