de·​mot·​ic di-ˈmä-tik How to pronounce demotic (audio)
: of, relating to, or written in a simplified form of the ancient Egyptian hieratic writing
: popular, common
demotic idiom
: of or relating to the form of Modern Greek that is based on everyday speech

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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 And the fourth stage of realignment — raucous, demotic, performative, over-the-top, transgressive, and potentially earth-shattering — is about to begin. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 16 Mar. 2024 Donald Trump won in 2016 by winning over demotic whites who voted for Barack Obama. Michael Barone, Orange County Register, 14 Feb. 2024 What happens when a political party becomes demotic? Michael Barone, Orange County Register, 14 Feb. 2024 Production after production — the last one on Broadway was in 2008 — has attempted to rescue a handful of great Rodgers and Hart songs from the weak book that John O’Hara cobbled together from some of his demotic short stories published in The New Yorker. Brian Seibert, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2023 All of them present a witch’s brew of demotic diversity and craven dishonesty. Armond White, National Review, 27 Sep. 2023 The broken stone features three scripts in two languages — 14 lines of formal hieroglyphs, 32 lines in the demotic language (the simplified, everyday handwriting used in ancient Egypt) and 54 lines of ancient Greek — the only one of the three understood at the time. Katie Hunt, CNN, 12 Oct. 2022 Alongside hieroglyphics, administrators and businessmen used the plain hieratic and demotic scripts to keep their secular world spinning. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 18 Feb. 2022 That meant the demotic and hieroglyphic portions would be similar to the Greek text, and for the first time ever, scholars had a shot at understanding the mysterious symbols. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'demotic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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-

First Known Use

1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of demotic was in 1822


Dictionary Entries Near demotic

Cite this Entry

“Demotic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

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