Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or being a system of writing, such as that of ancient Egypt, in which pictorial symbols are used to represent meaning or sounds or a combination of meaning and sound.
  • adj. Written with such symbols.
  • adj. Difficult to read or decipher.
  • n. A hieroglyph.
  • n. Hieroglyphic writing, especially that of the ancient Egyptians. Often used in the plural with a singular or plural verb.
  • n. Something, such as illegible or undecipherable writing, that is felt to resemble a hieroglyph.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a writing system of ancient Egypt, Minoans, Maya and other civilizations, using pictorial symbols to represent individual sounds as a rebus
  • n. any symbol used in this system; a hieroglyph
  • n. undecipherable handwriting or secret symbol
  • adj. of, relating to, or written with this system of symbols
  • adj. difficult to decipher

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Emblematic; expressive of some meaning by characters, pictures, or figures
  • adj. Resembling hieroglyphics; not decipherable.
  • adj. of or pertaining to hieroglyphs.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Expressed in hieroglyphs; written in or inscribed with symbolic characters: as, the hieroglyphic language of Egypt; hieroglyphic records; a hieroglyphic obelisk.
  • Mysteriously symbolic or emblematic; hard to decipher or interpret.
  • In entomology, having distinct, irregular color-markings, suggestive of Egyptian hieroglyphs: applied to the elytra of certain Coleoptera, etc.
  • n. Same as hieroglyph.
  • Of or pertaining to certain vermiform structures which occur in the flysch, in Carpathian sandstone, and in the marine facies of the Cretaceous and Jurassic formations of the Alps. See II, 2.
  • n. One of certain vermiform structures, abundant in the Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks of some countries, probably in part the trails of mollusks or worms.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a writing system using picture symbols; used in ancient Egypt
  • adj. resembling hieroglyphic writing
  • adj. written in or belonging to a writing system using pictorial symbols
  • n. writing that resembles hieroglyphics (usually by being illegible)

Etymologies

French hiéroglyphique, from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hierogluphikos : hieros, holy; + gluphē, carving (from gluphein, to carve).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First coined 1726, from Middle French hiéroglyphique, from Latin hieroglyphicus, from Ancient Greek ἱερογλυφικός (hierogluphikos), from ἱερογλυφέω (hieroglupheō, "to represent hieroglyphically"), from ἱερός (hieros, "sacred, holy") + γλύφω (gluphō, "to carve, to engrave, to cut out") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Written in hieroglyphic form with accompanying portraitures, the historical texts are based on an early form of the Maya language, probably Chol.

    Primary sources of Maya history - part one

  • The point is that written texts, whether in hieroglyphic form or in Roman transcription, afford us a unique insight into the hearts and minds of the people who wrote them or those for whom they were written.

    Primary sources of Maya history - part two

  • Having first described the Stabl Antar, he says: – In another grotto I found twice over the name of the city written in hieroglyphic characters, Çi-ou-t.

    A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

  • Over the ears of this beast of heavy burden is engraved in hieroglyphic characters, "The great ass that carries his wife;"

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers

  • This object is described in hieroglyphic dictionaries as a "cake," and it certainly does resemble a kind of hot cross-bun frequently represented in pictures of offerings; but the sign (pronounced nu) is really intended for a walled town, with

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers

  • They seem to have consisted of scenical representations of the philosophy and religion of those times, which had previously been painted in hieroglyphic figures to perpetuate them before the discovery of letters; and are well explained in Dr. Warburton's divine legation of Moses; who believes with great probability, that

    Canto I

  • "Well," came the quick reply from the cyberstacks, the raising of an eyebrow almost audible in the e-mail, "first: hieroglyphic is the adjective.

    Secrets of the Crypt - Arthur Phillips talks about how he came to write The Egyptologist

  • After the fall of the Hittite Empire, so-called hieroglyphic Hittite was used to write inscriptions in the Luwian language.

    b. Economy, Technology, Society, and Culture

  • And very many of the Egyptian books are written in this kind of broken-down hieroglyphic, which is called "hieratic," or priestly writing.

    Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Egypt

  • The Literature of ancient Egypt is the product of a period of about four thousand years, and it was written in three kinds of writing, which are called hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic.

    The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians

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