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For other uses, see Doodle (disambiguation).
Doodle by Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of Prussia, c. 1795

A doodle is a drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes.

Stereotypical examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, often in the margins, drawn by students daydreaming or losing interest during class.[1] Other common examples of doodling are produced during long telephone conversations if a pen and paper are available.

Popular kinds of doodles include cartoon versions of teachers or companions in a school, famous TV or comic characters, invented fictional beings, landscapes, geometric shapes, patterns and textures.


The word doodle first appeared in the early 17th century to mean a fool or simpleton.[2] It may derive from the German Dudeltopf or Dudeldop, meaning simpleton or noodle (literally "nightcap").[2]

The meaning "fool, simpleton" is intended in the song title "Yankee Doodle", originally sung by British colonial troops prior to the American Revolutionary War. This is also the origin of the early eighteenth century verb to doodle, meaning "to swindle or to make a fool of". The modern meaning emerged in the 1930s either from this meaning or from the verb "to dawdle", which since the seventeenth century has had the meaning of wasting time or being lazy.

Effects on memory[edit]

According to a study published in the scientific journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodling can aid a person's memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain's processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation. The study was done by Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, who reported that doodlers in her experiment recalled 7.5 pieces of information (out of 16 total) on average, 29% more than the average of 5.8 recalled by the control group made of non-doodlers.[3]

Notable doodlers[edit]

A typical page from Pushkin's manuscript

Alexander Pushkin's notebooks are celebrated for their superabundance of marginal doodles, which include sketches of friends' profiles, hands, and feet. These notebooks are regarded as a work of art in their own right. Full editions of Pushkin's doodles have been undertaken on several occasions.[4] Some of Pushkin's doodles were animated by Andrei Khrzhanovsky and Yuriy Norshteyn in the 1987 film My Favorite Time.[5][6]

Nobel laureate (in literature, 1913) poet Rabindranath Tagore made huge number of doodles in his manuscript.[7] Poet and physician John Keats doodled in the margins of his medical notes; other literary doodlers have included Samuel Beckett and Sylvia Plath.[8] Mathematician Stanislaw Ulam developed the Ulam spiral for visualization of prime numbers while doodling during a boring presentation at a mathematics conference.[9] The American artist Cindy Hinant is known for her heart doodles.[10] Many American Presidents (including Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) have been known to doodle during meetings.[11]

Some doodles and drawings can be found in notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.

Doodle in Research[edit]

Researches on doodle [12][13] are now in focus to study on writer's subconscious and productive mind. This opens a new chapter in cognitive science.[citation needed]


Zentangle, is a method of doodling that is more conscious and structured.[14] It is considered a meditative art form. A basic Zentangle doodle consists of many patterns like dots, lines, curves, shapes, shades and figures all within a small 3 inch square. Zentangling induces relaxation, provokes inspiration, relieves stress, stimulates the mind, and many more. It can even help with insomniacs when creating Zentangle art before bed.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archey, Karen (2013). Hymns for Mr. Suzuki. Abrons Art Center. Further meditating on the stereotype of female irrationality are [Cindy] Hinant’s untitled heart drawings, recalling grade school doodles made by obsessive girls killing class time by channeling her newest beau. 
  2. ^ a b "doodle", n, Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed March 23, 2012.
  3. ^ Andrade, Jackie (January 2010). "What does doodling do?". Applied Cognitive Psychology 24 (1): 100–106. doi:10.1002/acp.1561. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Stephanie Sandler. Commemorating Pushkin: Russia's Myth of a National Poet. Stanford University Press, 2004. Page 156.
  6. ^ David M. Bethea (ed.) The Pushkin Handbook. University of Wisconsin Pres, 2013. Page 412.
  7. ^ Banerjee, Nilanjan (2011). Wings of Mistakes: Doodles of Rabindranath Tagore. Kolkata: Punascha in association with Visva-Bharati. 
  8. ^ Books. "Idle Doodles by Famous Authors". Flavorwire. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  9. ^ Gardner 1964, p. 122.
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (April 22, 2008). "Rising and Regrouping on The Lower Eastside". The New York Times. p. C28. 
  11. ^ "All the Presidents’ Doodles - Magazine". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  12. ^ C. Adak , B. B. Chaudhuri. "Extraction of Doodles and Drawings from Manuscripts". Proc. 5th International Conference on Pattern Recognition and Machine Intelligence (PReMI 2013), LNCS #8251, pp. 515-520, Springer-Heidelberg. Retrieved 2013. 
  13. ^ B.B.Chaudhuri et al., Separation of text from non-text doodles of poet Rabindranath Tagore's manuscripts, Proc. National Conference on Computing and Communication Systems (NCCCS-2012), pp.1-5, 2012.
  14. ^ Malchiodi, Cathy (January 13, 2014). "Doodling Your Way to a More Mindful Life". Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Zentangle Method". Retrieved March 15, 2015.