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Wiktionary:About Egyptian

link={{{imglink}}} This is an editable draft of Wiktionary:About Egyptian with no policy authority. It is intended to help the Wiktionary community develop new and perhaps better approaches. Please feel free to edit this page conscientiously, as you would any document on a wiki.

This page describes policies and practices specific to Ancient Egyptian entries on the English Wiktionary. These are in addition to Wiktionary’s overall standards which are listed at Wiktionary:Entry layout explained. It is very much a work in progress, and you are encouraged to offer criticism, suggestions and other input.

This page discusses only Ancient Egyptian — Coptic is discussed separately at Wiktionary:About Coptic and the Egyptian dialect of Arabic is discussed at Wiktionary:About Egyptian Arabic

General InformationEdit

Middle EgyptianEdit

Wiktionary takes Middle Egyptian as the standard form. This form of Egyptian flourished from 2000 BCE–1300 BCE, and continued to be used as a literary language long afterwards — it is therefore the form of the language best understood by modern scholarship. In general, Middle Egyptian differs from earlier and later forms of the language in grammar, but there is also semantic change. Words or meanings of words which do not occur in Middle Egyptian should still be added, but their time period should be noted.

On Wiktionary Egyptian does not include Coptic or Demotic.


The normal standard for modern languages is three independent attestations. However, Egyptian, as a dead language, requires only one attestation.


Words are entered in transliterated form. Redirects can be created from hieroglyphic entries to transliterated entries.

Words that had a distinct s or z in their original spelling should be lemmatized at the form with s or z, respectively; words with s/z that never had the s/z distinction should be lemmatized with s.

Geminate verbs should be lemmatized under their geminate stems, while non-geminate strong verbs should be lemmatized under their base stems, and weak verbs should be lemmatized with a final radical j or w, as appropriate. Thus e.g. qbb (to cool) rather than qb, wnn (to exist) rather than wn, jrj (to do) rather than jr.

Entries for single hieroglyphsEdit

Egyptian hieroglyphs should not be confused with Egyptian words or morphemes. Individual glyphs should have entries at their Unicode codepoints with a Symbol header; if they are used as logograms for entire words, they should link to those (transliterated) words in their definitions. 𓁹 is a good example of how Egyptian hieroglyph entries should ideally be formatted.


Transliteration is not the same as transcription. Transcription seeks to reproduce the pronunciation of a text. For example, the name of the founder of the Twenty-second dynasty is transliterated as ššnq but transcribed Shoshenq in English, Chéchanq in French, Sjesjonk in Dutch, and Scheschonq in German.

On Wiktionary, we are only interested in the transliteration — the representation of the Egyptian hieroglyphs in the Roman alphabet. There are many systems for transliterating Egyptian, which are broadly similar, but disagree on details. The system used on Wiktionary adheres more closely to the written form of the hieroglyphs than many other transliteration systems in order to keep debated theoretical considerations to a minimum.

Wiktionary transliterates the uniliteral signs as follows:

j j y w b p f m n r h
z s š q k g t d

Capital letters should not be used.

The sort order is shown in the table above. It is used in automatically sorted column templates such as {{der3}}, but not in categories due to technical issues.

j & wEdit

j and w were frequently omitted in hieroglyphs — especially in suffixes. They should be transliterated when present, as well as in the lemma forms of weak verbs; otherwise, when absent but expected, they can be indicated inside parentheses in the body of an entry but should generally be omitted from entry titles.


The hypothetical phoneme /l/ should not be written as l but should be transliterated according to the written form; thus
rw, even when they represent underlying /l/. However, a note about underlying /l/ can be made in the pronunciation section.


should be transliterated as z in the context of Old Egyptian or in later chronolects (Middle or Late Egyptian) when the spelling is etymological, but as s when it is used in Middle or Late Egyptian for etymological s. Also see the note on lemmatization above.

Characters which are not transliteratedEdit

Determinatives are never transliterated. Further, phonetic complements (uniliterals which follow a biliteral/triliteral and are intended only to clarify its pronunciation) are not transliterated either. Thus:

The word:
Transliteration: jmn

However, when a phonetic complement’s transliteration conflicts with that of the sign it is complementing, precedence is given to the value suggested by the complement. Thus:

The word:
Transliteration: jtj, not jṯj

Morpheme divisionEdit

Suffix pronouns and stative pronouns/suffixes are separated from the stem by a period/full stop ., as are the verbal prefix j. and other suffixes that are generally written after the determinative of the word they attach to. Other suffixes and inflectional endings written before the determinative or as part of the determinative should not be separated, e.g. for the plural of ꜥnḫ write ꜥnḫw rather than ꜥnḫ.w or ꜥnḫ·w.

Alternative readings and transliterationsEdit

Sometimes the reading of a word may be debated or uncertain; in this case, one form should be chosen as the lemma and the other readings (all employing the Wiktionary transliteration system) should be made into soft redirects.

Pages which currently exist using another transliteration system should be shifted to the correct namespace and then listed for deletion, unless they use the Manuel de Codage system, in which case they should redirect to the main entry. If, however, they are likely to also be a term in another language, then they should be made into a soft redirect (see the Wiktionary policy on redirects).

Inputting HieroglyphsEdit

The Manuel de Codage system, implemented with WikiHiero, allows hieroglyphs to be entered using a standard keyboard, without any special characters, placed between angle brackets thus: <hiero></hiero>. Under the Manuel de Codage system, every hieroglyph has a unique code. For the alphabetic hieroglyphs the input codes are as follows (Note that the system is case sensitive):

A i y i-i a w W b p f m M n N r
l h H x X z s S q k g t T d D

The more common biliterals and triliterals can be entered using the same system, like so:

bA aA pA Dd mwt Etc.

A list of these codes can be seen here.

Less common biliterals, triliterals and determinatives must be entered using their Gardiner number (note that case remains essential):

A2 Z3 G14

The most powerful aspect of the system is its ability to control the arrangement of a series of hieroglyphs. This is accomplished using the following punctuation marks: - : * <> ! .

Each hieroglyphic character must be separated from the next one by one of these marks.

Mark Function Code example Example
- Places two signs beside each other (the default position) <hiero>R4-t-p</hiero>
: places one sign on top of another <hiero>t:p</hiero>
* Holds two signs together horizontally (e.g. so that both of them will go under a third sign) <hiero>R4:t*p</hiero>
<> Places a cartouche around signs <hiero>< p:p-i-i ></hiero>
! Ends line (necessary only when quoting multiple lines of Egyptian)
. Enters a blank space. Currently the implementation of this in stacked glyphs is buggy, but the code H_SPACE can be used as a working substitute in such cases. <hiero>mn:n-t:Z9-nw-.-V1</hiero>
\ Mirrors the preceding glyph <hiero>nw:k\</hiero>

More detailed notes about the syntax of WikiHiero are available here.

WikiHiero does not support the use of parentheses for deeper stacking as used in other implementations of the Manuel de Codage. In the case that such a stacking is desired, it must be accepted that having all the characters displayed is ultimately more important than having them authentically stacked.

A second problem is that many of the more obscure characters (particularly unusual determinatives) are missing from WikiHiero’s repertoire. In this case they can often be displayed using the {{egy-glyph}} template. If the glyph is not available even there, its Hieroglyphica number should be entered if possible so that users can look up the intended glyph in other references. A note explaining the appearance of the missing hieroglyph can also be helpful.

A basic set of Egyptian hieroglyphs was added to the Unicode standard in October 2009 with the release of version 5.2, using the Unicode block U+13000–U+1342F. See Wikipedia’s w:Egyptian hieroglyphs#Unicode. The code points are supported by various fonts such as Abydos, NewGardiner, and JSeshFont. However, control characters for clustering and stacking glyphs still lack widespread support, and so Unicode representation of complete hieroglyphic words is not yet workable.


Most headers have a basic description in WT:ELE. However, Egyptian has a few special concerns which will be dealt with here. If you have further questions after reading this section, check out WT:ELE, as headers have a somewhat fuller description there. Headers are listed here in the order they should be found in entries, and at the proper level (the number of equal signs which should surround them in the editing window). Keep in mind that it is not necessary to use all of these every time. Simply put what you know (or can find) and someone else will fill it out later. The only headers which are necessary for every entry are the Language (Egyptian) and POS header.

====Usage notes====
====Alternative forms====
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====


Language header, at level 2.


Etymologies list the word(s) from which the entry comes from genetically, and should be encoded using {{m}}. If a word comes from a word in another language, the language should be noted, generally best coded using {{der}}. The same format should be used when noting Egyptian words in the etymologies of non-Egyptian entries. When an Egyptian word comes from Proto-Afro-Asiatic, the reconstructed etymon should be linked to with * preceding, to indicate a reconstructed form. Cognates in sister languages are useful: Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew are the usual suspects. In general, when using other languages in an etymology, they should be written in the appropriate script and transliterated, according to the source language’s policies. If you only have access to a transliteration, put it unlinked, and add {{rfscript}}, which marks the entry for attention from someone knowledgeable about the particular script. If you are uncertain of the meaning, spelling, or some other facet of the word, you can use {{attention}} to mark the entry for attention from someone knowledgeable about the language.

This entry is also used to group together POS entries with similar etymologies.


A few types of pronunciations can be found in this section:

Reconstructed EgyptianEdit

This is the reconstructed pronunciation that is believed to be the way speakers of Egyptian pronounced the words. Different authors may provide different reconstructions, so these should generally be cited with a reference to the source or the system used.

Egyptological pronunciationEdit

Egyptological pronunciation is the way Egyptologists conventionally pronounce these words today. It is an entirely invented system that has no connection to how these words were pronounced by speakers of Egyptian. Egyptological pronunciations can be automatically supplied by the template {{egy-IPA-E}}; see the notes on that template’s documentation page for details.


The “Part of Speech” headers which are currently used within Egyptian are: Adjective, Adverb, Determiner, Interjection, Noun, Numeral, Particle, Prefix, Preposition, Prepositional phrase, Pronoun, Proper noun, Romanization, Suffix, Symbol, and Verb. These largely represent the standard across languages in Wiktionary. If an entry contains a different POS header than those listed above, it is likely incorrect. Different POS headers may be acceptable, but should be carefully checked and discussed with other editors.


Directly underneath the POS header is the word itself, in hieroglyphs, which is typically formatted with a template such as {{egy-noun|head=<hiero></hiero>}}. For nouns, gender should be noted by passing an m or f as the template’s first parameter. For verbs, the verb root class can be noted (if known) by passing an appropriate code as the first parameter; see {{egy-verb}}. For details on each part of speech, see the templates at Category:Egyptian headword-line templates.

This will be the first time that the hieroglyphs appear in the entry and therefore it should come before sections like “alternative forms”, which often precede this section in other languages on Wiktionary. The definitions immediately follow the hieroglyphs.

If the word is only attested in Archaic Egyptian, Old Egyptian, or Late Egyptian, this should be noted in the definition lines using {{defdate}}.

Usage notesEdit

A general purpose header which is used for information which does not fit into other headers. This is one of the few headers which regularly contains prose. Information which can be reasonably put here includes notes about syntax, inflection, and locality.


Egyptian is an inflected language, but the inflections tend to be fairly simple and straightforward — irregularities are genuinely rare. For such languages it is usual to put the inflections before the definition — but the amount of space which hieroglyphs can take up and the variation inherent in the hieroglyphic system makes this impractical for Egyptian. This information should be listed in a table, in transcription. Hieroglyphs can be added also, but this is probably only necessary if something particularly odd happens.

For nouns, use the template {{egy-decl-noun}} (see the documentation at the template page for usage):

For adjectives, use the template {{egy-decl-adj}} (see the documentation at the template page for usage):

This will automatically categorize nisba adjectives as such.

Verbs are more complicated: see Appendix:Egyptian verbs for all eighteen transitive conjugations and the various irregulars (intransitives are identical but lack a passive in the finite forms—but they still have passive participles). Templates exist for conjugating all classes of verbs; see Category:Egyptian verb inflection-table templates for a list.

Alternative formsEdit

Alternative ways of writing the word in hieroglyphs should go here, ideally accompanied by their transliterations. Generally, the most common spelling will have a full entry, while the less common spellings will be listed. Some variants are exceptionally common and therefore not worth noting:

  • Omission of the determinative
  • interchange between s & z and between t & , as this is extremely common
  • Common interchanges of determinatives, e.g.:

It is usually best to list variant forms using the template {{egy-hieroforms}}, rather than line by line, e.g.:

Where a variant spelling has a distinctly different meaning it is better treated as a distinct word, with a separate sub-entry.

Bulleted listsEdit

The following headers contain only bulleted lists. Bullets are created by starting the line with an asterisk (*), followed by a single space, followed by the content. Words linked to in such lists are best encoded using {{l}} (remember to specify the language).

Semantic relations headersEdit

Semantic relations are described in the following two headers: Synonyms and Antonyms. These are words which are related semantically, that is, by their meanings. They can be etymologically/genetically related, but they don’t have to be.


Words which have the same or similar meanings are place here. They may be etymologically (genetically) related, but they do not have to be. Synonyms should be bulleted and sorted by the sense which they share, which is specified using {{sense}}.


Words which have an opposing meaning are placed here. Content under this header is formatted identically to that under the Synonym header, namely it is bulleted and sorted by sense using {{sense}}.

Genetic relations headersEdit

Genetic relations between words are described in the following headers, in addition to Etymology, which comes earlier in the entry. These words must always be genetically related, but need not be semantically related, though they often are. The Etymology header describes the entry’s predecessor(s), where the following headers describe other genetic relations.

Derived terms (Egyptian words)Edit

Derived terms are other Egyptian words which derive from the entry word. Non-Egyptian words which derive from the term should be placed under "Descendants." Words in this section should be given in transliteration and hieroglyphs, linked, bulleted, and alphabetized. An easy method for searching for derived terms and descendants is to click the "What links here" link on the left (please check through these before adding them to sections).

Related terms (Egyptian words)Edit

This section is, like derived terms, only for other Egyptian words which are in some way etymologically related to the entry word, such as a word which shares the same etymon. It is often useful for words which might be etyma or derived terms, but the exact relationship of which is unclear. This section should be formatted in a similar manner to derived terms.

Descendants (non-Egyptian words)Edit

Descendants are words in other languages which come from the entry word. Most of these words will be Demotic or Coptic, but some Egyptian words entered Greek, Arabic and even further afield. Please list descendants alphabetically by language. Often it will be necessary to specify Coptic descendants by dialect (Akhmimic, Bohairic, Fayyumic, Sahidic, or Old Coptic).


The references section should contain the dictionaries/lexicons which you used to create the entry. Please keep in mind that simply copying out of copyrighted works is a copyright violation and illegal; any entries found to be copyright violations will be promptly deleted without warning or discussion. Users with a repeated history of entering copyrighted material will generally be blocked.

An Example Entry: zꜣbEdit






  1. jackal


Alternative formsEdit




  1. an official title of uncertain rank


Alternative formsEdit