Hieroglyphs typical of the Graeco-Roman period.

Alternative formsEdit


First coined 1726, from Middle French hiéroglyphique, from Latin hieroglyphicus, from Ancient Greek ἱερογλυφικός (hierogluphikós), from ἱερογλυφέω (hierogluphéō, to represent hieroglyphically), from ἱερός (hierós, sacred, holy) + γλύφω (glúphō, to carve, to engrave, to cut out)



English Wikipedia has an article on:

hieroglyphic (plural hieroglyphics)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) a writing system of ancient Egypt, Minoans, Maya and other civilizations, using pictorial symbols to represent individual sounds as a rebus
  2. any symbol used in this system; a hieroglyph
  3. (by extension) undecipherable handwriting or secret symbol

Usage notesEdit

The use of this word in the plural, as well as its use to mean ‘a hieroglyph’, are commonly proscribed by Egyptologists; for example, James P. Allen writes, ‘Each sign in this system is a hieroglyph, and the system as a whole is called hieroglyphic (not “hieroglyphics”).’ Thus, while the use of ‘hieroglyphics’ is quite common in works written by laymen (and formerly in 19th-century academic works), it is rare in modern academic works written by Egyptologists.



hieroglyphic (comparative more hieroglyphic, superlative most hieroglyphic)

  1. of, relating to, or written with this system of symbols
    hieroglyphic writing
    hieroglyphic obelisk
  2. difficult to decipher