hi·​er·​at·​ic ˌhī-(ə-)ˈra-tik How to pronounce hieratic (audio)
: constituting or belonging to a cursive form of ancient Egyptian writing simpler than the hieroglyphic
: highly stylized or formal
hieratic poses
hieratically adverb

Examples of hieratic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The team also recovered amulets, pottery tools and ostraca—pieces of pottery—that feature hieratic inscriptions, or cursive hieroglyphics. Sonja Anderson, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Jan. 2024 Yet in the course of their recurring encounters, William—in effect, a hidden prophet—delivers a hieratic word to Anthony about the Candyman tale, one that links up again with the 1992 film. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 26 Aug. 2021 Greek is the second-most represented script; hieratic, hieroglyphics, Greek, Arabic, and Coptic (an Egyptian dialect written in the Greek alphabet) also appear, testifying to Athribis’ multicultural history, per Science Alert. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Feb. 2022 Using more of the petticoat’s crin to create a hieratic hat, Magugu likens the piece to a Nefertiti headdress. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 25 Aug. 2022 Ray films musical and dramatic scenes alike with dissonant clashes of elements in unbalanced compositions, sculptural gestures, and hieratic poses. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 3 Nov. 2021 At the same time, its static, hieratic text, derived largely from ancient Egyptian and Akkadian sources, lies far outside the operatic norm, and makes most American librettos of recent decades look bland. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 The golden aura of its mosaics; the hieratic posture of religious figures; its spirituality. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, 12 Oct. 2020 Dench inhabits her hieratic role with wisdom, grace, nobility, and a sense of moment; Elba invests Macavity with fierce and insinuating power. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2019 See More

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

Word History


Latin hieraticus sacerdotal, from Greek hieratikos, from hierasthai to perform priestly functions, from hieros sacred; probably akin to Sanskrit iṣara vigorous

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hieratic was in 1669

Dictionary Entries Near hieratic

Cite this Entry

“Hieratic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hieratic. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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