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 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 The first was written in hieroglyphs and the second in the demotic script, a cursive form of ancient Egyptian similar in style to written Arabic. Benjamin Plackett, Discover Magazine, 28 Nov. 2022 Carved on the dark, granite-like stone were indecipherable hieroglyphics, the simplified Egyptian demotic script and ancient Greek. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 15 Oct. 2022 In England, Champollion's main rival in the race to decode the slab focused his efforts on the demotic section of the stone. Katie Hunt, CNN, 12 Oct. 2022 In truth, most of his pet objects look nostalgic only from our present vantage; in their day, his cheeseburgers and ice-cream desserts were demotic, slangy—a provocation. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 21 July 2022 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 See More

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 24 Sep. 2023.

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