de·​mot·​ic | \ di-ˈmä-tik How to pronounce demotic (audio) \

Definition of demotic

1 : of, relating to, or written in a simplified form of the ancient Egyptian hieratic writing
2 : popular, common demotic idiom
3 : of or relating to the form of Modern Greek that is based on everyday speech

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Did You Know?

You may recognize the root of "demotic" from words like "democracy" and "demography." The source of these words is the Greek word dēmos, meaning "people." "Demotic" is often used of everyday forms of language (as opposed to literary or highbrow versions). It entered English in the early 1800s and originally designated a form of ancient Egyptian cursive script which by the 5th century BCE had come into use everywhere in Egypt for business and literary purposes (in contrast to the more complex, hieratic script retained by the clergy). "Demotic" has a newer specialized sense as well, referring to a form of Modern Greek that is based on everyday speech and that since 1976 has been the official language of Greece.

Examples of demotic in a Sentence

a more demotic way of speaking
Recent Examples on the Web Formally commanding, the multicolored suite captures in sprightly imagery and describes in demotic words a host of Black citizens—real lives, really led—in windows of tenements along a city street that’s past due for intersecting with Fifth Avenue. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Metropolitan Museum at a Hundred and Fifty," 23 Nov. 2020 The American right has been molded in his anti-elitist, grassroots, demotic, irreverent, patriotic, hard-charging image. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Era of Limbaugh," 8 Feb. 2020 Saudi Arabia sponsors demotic Sunni radicalism throughout the Middle East, which has extended human conflict and contributed to the waves of refugees heading into Europe. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Who’s In Charge Here? The President Waits for Instructions from Saudi Arabia," 20 Sep. 2019 Sports have always been a more demotic proposition. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "Don’t Take Me Out to the Ballgame—I Can’t Afford It," 12 July 2018 But the words Perdita speaks, defending the aesthetics of the natural over the artificial and refined, could be applied as well to the ambitious use of demotic language, a practice that, at the time Shakespeare wrote, was still new. Marilynne Robinson, New Republic, "The Luther Legend," 12 Dec. 2017 Some authors think that no book can succeed unless demotic and dumb. Felipe Fernández-armesto, WSJ, "Maybe Cities Were a Bad Idea," 28 July 2017 The U.S.–Saudi preference for regime change and demotic movements (no matter how loathsome) has been a gift to extremists everywhere. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Our Relationship with Saudi Arabia Is an Embarrassment," 20 July 2017 The fire, virtuosity and spiritual imagination with which Morgan conjures this weary, seen-it-all, demotic black prophet — like so much else in her book — are nothing short of genius. Jaimy Gordon, New York Times, "‘The Sport of Kings,’ by C. E. Morgan," 10 June 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'demotic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of demotic

1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for demotic

borrowed from Greek dēmotikós "of the people, common, ordinary, of the cursive Egyptian script," from dēmótēs "one of the people, commoner" (from dêmos "people" + -tēs, suffix of persons) + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at demo-

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The first known use of demotic was in 1822

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Cite this Entry

“Demotic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of demotic

formal : popular or common

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Nglish: Translation of demotic for Spanish Speakers

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