I came into work this morning (I am a graduate student at a department of astrophysics) and saw this drawn on one of the hallway chalkboards:

enter image description here

My mind immediately thought: that looks Gallifreyan!

Is it Gallifreyan? And if so, what does it say? If not, any ideas where to look for its meaning?

Note: I realize that series 9 just started, and I have not yet seen the first episode of the series. If this particular symbol is connected with this, I am okay with spoilers, but you probably should cover up the answer for others who are not okay with spoilers.

  • Does it mean No Spoilers? Was River Song there? Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:08

3 Answers 3


Yes, that is definitely something that resembles the Gallifreyan circular alphabet we've seen consistently on the recent series of Doctor Who.

As far as I know, there isn't any official translation of the alphabet; in fact, in at least one case ("A Good Man Goes To War") River Song explicitly mentions that High Gallifreyan writing "doesn't translate" -- even the TARDIS can't do it for someone who doesn't read it.

However, there have been many attempts by fans to scour the episodes looking for hints as to what certain words might mean, based on the writing in various places where The Doctor may have read or explained them.

The symbol on your chalkboard is one I've seen in a few different places; it appears to be a very close approximation of this fan-based word for "time". It's not exactly right, but it was also probably drawn from memory by a fan, so I think we can cut them some slack :)

(Again, this is all non-canon; as far as I know the writing on the show itself is just random cool-looking circular designs.)

enter image description here

  • I am checking a few obvious episodes to see if that symbol shows up on-screen anywhere but I suspect it was "invented" by fans trying to make a real language out of Gallifreyan.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 17:37
  • 8
    It doesn't match up with TIME. Knowing the general mentality of college students, it's probably Gallifreyan for a rude phrase revolving around someone's mom.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 21:09
  • 3
    given the above symbols and their meaning, it seems the Gallifreyans could learn a thing or two about compressing their representations into a more compact format. I would hate to take a test in this language, I probably wouldn't finish reading the first question until the test was half over, and would not have the first sentence of my answer done before time was up!
    – user11521
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 1:16
  • 2
    @Michael I have a strong suspicion they treat this type of writing the same way we treat calligraphy -- a really fancy, artsy type of writing that you don't usually bother with unless you're trying to be pretty.
    – RonLugge
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 4:38
  • 1
    How many different words, or inflections, or conjugations, or contrasubjunctations do you suppose Gallifreyans have for "time"?
    – Beta
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 5:55

No. It looks like a standard "not permitted" strikethrough of the game Downfall:

enter image description here

Clearly your department has a problem with people playing this game in that area, and has decided to ban it.

I remember it being quite clacketty, so it could easily be a distraction to people trying to work.



No, that is not Gallifreyan.

It looks like it's supposed to be, but it isn't. Its like non-Japanese trying to write what looks like Japanese.

It's poorly written, but I translate it to:





Correctly written that should look like this:

badly written gallifreyan

If you're interested to learn Gallifreyan, here is a good crash course. If you're interested in seeing your name in Gallifreyan go here.

Note: Answer non-canon

  • 3
    I don't see it. Other than the outer circle, what does this drawing have in common with the one in the question?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 11:15
  • 6
    Just in case someone is confused: that is one fan's idea of what Gallifreyan might look like. As there is no official Gallifreyan language, any one fan's idea is as valid as any other :)
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 11:47
  • 1
    You're saying A) it's not Gallifreyan, B) what it isn't in Gallifreyan, and C) what it should be? WHAT WHAT SHOULD BE?? ttt ati t t? How is this an answer? Please, please, explain your thinking here. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:06
  • 1
    It's college. It's probably one Whovian sending a secret message to another Whovian: "Ta-ta's at 2 o'clock".
    – Omegacron
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 18:55
  • @MeatTrademark The answer is No, it's not Gallifreyan as understood by humanity. But it almost could be translated as above.
    – Coomie
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 5:07

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