hieroglyphic

adjective
hi·​ero·​glyph·​ic | \ˌhī-(ə-)rə-ˈgli-fik \
variants: or less commonly hieroglyphical \ ˌhī-​(ə-​)rə-​ˈgli-​fi-​kəl \

Definition of hieroglyphic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : written in, constituting, or belonging to a system of writing mainly in pictorial characters

2 : inscribed with hieroglyphic

3 : resembling hieroglyphic in difficulty of decipherment

hieroglyphic

noun

Definition of hieroglyphic (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : a system of hieroglyphic writing specifically : the picture script of the ancient Egyptian priesthood often used in plural but singular or plural in construction

3 : something that resembles a hieroglyph especially in difficulty of decipherment

Illustration of hieroglyphic

Illustration of hieroglyphic

Noun

hieroglyphic 2

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from hieroglyphic

Adjective

hieroglyphically \ ˌhī-​(ə-​)rə-​ˈgli-​fi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Adjective

If hieroglyphic writing is "all Greek to you," you know more about the etymology of hieroglyphic than you might think. That word comes from the Greek hieroglyphikos, which means "sacred carving" (from hieros, meaning "sacred," and glyphein, meaning "to carve"). The ancient Greeks who named hieroglyphic writing reserved that term for the picture writing they found carved in temple walls or on public monuments in Egypt; it was distinguished from writings done in ink on papyrus or other smooth surfaces. But since making their first appearances in English in the 1580s, both the noun hieroglyphics and the adjective hieroglyphic have been extended to apply to the picture writing of various cultures, whether or not those writings were carved or sacred.

Examples of hieroglyphic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Upper Mojave Desert is like some terrifying postapocalyptic dream: abandoned gas stations covered with hieroglyphic graffiti, battered highways streaked with moldering roadkill. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Rocket Man Who Wants To Beat the Billionaires," 14 Oct. 2015 The ancient Maya were skilled farmers and developed the science of astronomy, calendar systems and hieroglyphic writing. Ana Gershanik, NOLA.com, "See the Creatures of the Night at the Audubon Zoo," 11 Apr. 2018 In order to make players feel like true archaeologists, Inkle created an entirely new hieroglyphic language from scratch. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Heaven’s Vault is a game about translating an ancient alien language," 3 Apr. 2018 Merz has transformed Flatbush Avenue with a 12,500-square-foot mural in her cartoonish, hieroglyphic style. Jane Drinkard, The Cut, "Giant Mural on Flatbush Captures the Brooklyn Way," 30 Mar. 2018 Cole paints elegant hieroglyphic-like abstractions using live bacteria. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Shimmery bacteria plus a canvas equals art, briefly," 26 Jan. 2018 Despite having no idea what the hieroglyphic symbols meant, French archaeologist Georges Perrot supposedly copied the entire inscription for his records before the limestone was taken away by the villagers and used to build a new mosque. Ben Panko, Smithsonian, "Scholar Deciphers 3,200-Year-Old Inscription That Could Shed Light on the “Sea People”," 12 Oct. 2017 Mayan statues flanked the stairs, and the theater had hieroglyphic-like figures around the top of the ceiling. Dan Austin, Detroit Free Press, "Happy 90th Fisher Building! 10 fascinating facts about a Detroit icon," 1 Sep. 2017 But software still hides functions behind hieroglyphic icons and impossible-to-guess finger swipes. Geoffrey A. Fowler, WSJ, "Want to Get Tech Savvy? Don’t Ask Your Children," 9 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Players can see the gold and blue of the sphinx, and the rich browns, blues and greens of the hieroglyphics and murals on the temple walls. Justin Porter, New York Times, "Assassin’s Creed Has a New Mission: Working in the Classroom," 16 May 2018 His personal hieroglyphics, including the hands of the Wicked Witch of the West, cell phones, diamonds, hearts, kisses (Xs and Os) and female cyclops superhero figures, have become some of New Orleans's most beloved architectural tattoos. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "XXXtreme Drag Pro Wrestling Saturday night (June 2)," 1 June 2018 An ancient statue of a Nubian king with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics was also found at a Nile River temple in Sudan. James Rogers, Fox News, "2,200-year-old gold coin discovered in Egypt," 31 May 2018 In one room, a wall of hieroglyphics flanks a pyramid-themed fish tank. Jack Flemming, latimes.com, "NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal lists Florida Shaq-topia for $28 million," 18 May 2018 An ancient statue of a Nubian king with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics was also found at a Nile River temple in Sudan. James Rogers, Fox News, "Rare Roman discovery thrills experts: Emperor's marble head found at Egyptian temple site," 25 Apr. 2018 An ancient statue of a Nubian king with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics was also found at a Nile River temple in Sudan. James Rogers, Fox News, "Rare Roman discovery thrills experts: Emperor's marble head found at Egyptian temple site," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hieroglyphic.' 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 hieroglyphic

Adjective

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hieroglyphic

Adjective

Middle French hieroglyphique, from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hieroglyphikos, from hieros + glyphein to carve — more at cleave

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The first known use of hieroglyphic was in 1585

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More Definitions for hieroglyphic

hieroglyphic

noun
hi·​ero·​glyph·​ic | \ˌhī-ə-rə-ˈgli-fik \

Kids Definition of hieroglyphic

: any of the symbols in the picture writing of ancient Egypt

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