A doodle is an unfocused or unconscious 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. 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 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.
In the movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Deeds mentions that "doodle" was a word made up to describe scribblings to help a person think. According to the DVD audio commentary track, the word as used in this sense was invented by screenwriter Robert Riskin.
Effects on memory
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.
Noble laureate (in literature, 1913) poet Rabindranath Tagore made huge number of doodles in his manuscript. Poet and physician John Keats doodled in the margins of his medical notes; other literary doodlers have included Samuel Beckett and Sylvia Plath. Mathematician Stanislaw Ulam developed the Ulam spiral for visualization of prime numbers while doodling during a boring presentation at a mathematics conference. Many American Presidents (including Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) have been known to doodle during meetings.
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- Asemic writing
- Automatic writing
- Stick figure
- Stream of consciousness writing
- Ulam spiral
- "doodle", n, Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Andrade, Jackie (January 2010). "What does doodling do?". Applied Cognitive Psychology 24 (1): 100–106. doi:10.1002/acp.1561.
- Banerjee, Nilanjan (2011). Wings of Mistakes: Doodles of Rabindranath Tagore. Kolkata: Punascha in association with Visva-Bharati.
- Books. "Idle Doodles by Famous Authors". Flavorwire. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- Gardner 1964, p. 122.
- "All the Presidents’ Doodles - Magazine". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- Gardner, M. (March 1964). "Mathematical Games: The Remarkable Lore of the Prime Number". Scientific American 210: 120–128. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0364-120.
- Gombrich, E. H. "Pleasures of Boredom: Four Centuries of Doodles." In E. H. Gombrich, The Uses of Images, 212-225. Phaidon: London 1999.
- Spiegel, Alix (March 12, 2009). "Bored? Try Doodling To Keep The Brain On Task". NPR.org. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Hanusiak, Xenia (October 6, 2009). "The lost art of doodling". Smh.com.au. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- "Doodling As A Creative Process". Enchantedmind.com. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- "Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite!". ted.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011.