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

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 What does her embrace of the Republican base's most demotic superstitions tell us about the character of the contemporary right — and the character of contemporary American politics more generally? Damon Linker, The Week, 29 Mar. 2022 Instead, Baker does trash-and-vaudeville as in his demotic fashion ad Khaite FW21. Armond White, National Review, 29 Dec. 2021 While Urdu education was severely restricted along with its script as well as its high, ultra Persianised register, demotic Urdu along with a substantial part of its Persian loans still lives on in India. Shoaib Daniyal, Quartz, 26 Oct. 2021 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, 23 Nov. 2020 The American right has been molded in his anti-elitist, grassroots, demotic, irreverent, patriotic, hard-charging image. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 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, 20 Sep. 2019 Sports have always been a more demotic proposition. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, 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, 12 Dec. 2017 See More

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.

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-

Learn More About demotic

Time Traveler for demotic

Time Traveler

The first known use of demotic was in 1822

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About demotic

Dictionary Entries Near demotic



demotic Egyptian

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for demotic

Last Updated

6 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Demotic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on demotic

Nglish: Translation of demotic for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!