from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Architecture A vertical groove, especially in a Doric column or frieze.
  • noun A symbolic figure that is usually engraved or incised.
  • noun A symbol, such as a stylized figure or arrow on a public sign, that imparts information nonverbally.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In sculpture and architecture, a groove or channel, usually vertical, intended as an ornament. See triglyph.
  • noun A written or pictured character, sign, or symbol representing a word or an idea; an ideograph: as, the Mexican or Mayan glyphs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Arch.) A sunken channel or groove, usually vertical. See triglyph.
  • noun (Archæol.) A carved figure or character, incised or in relief; a carved pictograph; hence, a pictograph representing a form originally adopted for sculpture, whether carved or painted.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A figure carved in relief or incised, especially representing a sound, word, or idea.
  • noun Any non-verbal symbol that imparts information.
  • noun typography, computing A visual representation of a letter, character, or symbol, in a specific font and style.
  • noun architecture A vertical groove.

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

  • noun glyptic art in the form of a symbolic figure carved or incised in relief


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

[Greek gluphē, carving, from gluphein, to carve; see gleubh- in Indo-European roots.]



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  • a letter.

    February 6, 2007

  • I work with computers, and I've never heard any say "glyph" to mean letter. The usual term is character, but you'll often heard alphanumeric, or even "letter".

    February 7, 2007

  • There are lots of jobs in which people work with computers. I'm sure in some circles it is "computer lingo" as mager says. For example, among designers, perhaps.

    February 18, 2007

  • What do mean by designer? A web designer? A graphic artist?

    February 18, 2007

  • I am a web designer, and if you used the word glyph in my shop you'd probably be escorted to the door. Character is the term of choice in this industry. Actually, the only times I've ever heard "glyph" used in speech it referred to hieroglyphs or petroglyphs: ancient linguistic units, as opposed to modern high-tech ones.

    February 18, 2007

  • I was merely suggesting, on mager's behalf, that it could well be "computer lingo" in some circles, and not in others. Sorry to offend designers out there by implying they might one day use this word.

    What a hilarious misunderstanding! *rolls eyes*

    February 19, 2007

  • I'm not complaining, I'm honestly interested in knowing where and how glyph is used in computer lingo to mean letter.

    February 19, 2007

  • Funny, way back in the days before computers, this word was used in printing (at least in book publishing) fairly regularly, at least in my world. Not so anymore.

    It's also a damn fun word to say. :-)

    February 19, 2007

  • Glyph. Glyph. GLYPH. Damn, reesetee, you're right!

    February 19, 2007

  • symbols representing the signs of the zodiac and the planets and their geometric aspects or relationships

    February 17, 2008