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

  • adjective Of or associated with sacred persons or offices; sacerdotal.
  • adjective Constituting or relating to a simplified cursive style of Egyptian hieroglyphics, used in both sacred and secular writings.
  • adjective Extremely formal or stylized, as in a work of art.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to priests or to the priesthood; priestly; sacerdotal.
  • Of sacred or priestly origin; due to or derived from religious use or influence: specifically used of a kind of ancient Egyptian letters or writing, and of certain styles in art.

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

  • adjective Consecrated to sacred uses; sacerdotal; pertaining to priests.
  • adjective a mode of ancient Egyptian writing; a modified form of hieroglyphics, tending toward a cursive hand and formerly supposed to be the sacerdotal character, as the demotic was supposed to be that of the people.

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

  • adjective of or pertaining to priests, especially pharaonic priests of ancient Egypt; sacerdotal.
  • adjective of or pertaining to the cursive writing system developed by ancient Egyptian priests alongside the hieroglyphic system.
  • adjective literature, etc. extremely stylized, restrained or formal; adhering to fixed types or methods; severe in emotional import.
  • noun a writing system used in pharaonic Egypt that was developed alongside the hieroglyphic system, primarily written in ink with a reed brush on papyrus, allowing scribes to write quickly without resorting to the time consuming hieroglyphs.

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

  • adjective associated with the priesthood or priests
  • noun a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphics; used especially by the priests
  • adjective written or belonging to a cursive form of ancient Egyptian writing
  • adjective adhering to fixed types or methods; highly restrained and formal


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

[Latin hierāticus, from Greek hierātikos, from hierāteia, priesthood, from hierāsthai, to be a priest, from hiereus, priest, from hieros, holy; see eis- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin hieraticus, from Ancient Greek ἱερατικός (hieratikos), from ἱερατεία (hierateia, "priesthood"), from ἱερᾶτεύω ("be a priest"), from ἱερεύς (hiereus, "priest"), from ἱερός (hieros, "sacred").


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  • After the Egyptologists of the school of De Rouge 36 thought they had demonstrated that the familiar symbols of the Phoenician alphabet had been copied from that modified form of Egyptian hieroglyphics known as the hieratic writing, the Assyriologists came forward to prove that certain characters of the Babylonian syllabary also show a likeness to the alphabetical characters that seemingly could not be due to chance.

    A History of Science: in Five Volumes. Volume I: The Beginnings of Science 1904

  • It is known as the hieratic script; and the material invented for the use of the scribe was papyrus.

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers 1891

  • This cursive writing, which was somewhat incorrectly termed hieratic, was used only for public or private documents, for administrative correspondence, or for the propagation of literary, scientific, and religious works.

    History Of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1 (of 12) M. L. McClure 1881

  • The variations presented by the three existing copies prove that the original was in the primitive mode of writing called the hieratic, a character which must have already become difficult to decipher in the eighth century B.C., as the copyists have differed as to the interpretation to be given to certain signs, and in other cases have simply reproduced exactly the forms of such as they did not understand.

    Atlantis : the antediluvian world Ignatius Donnelly 1866

  • When she had stood about the room there had been a kind of hieratic dignity about her; she had that sanctioned effect upon the eye which is given by someone adequately imitating the pose of some famous picture or statue.

    The Judge Rebecca West 1937

  • Salammbô is as inarticulate for us as the serpent, to whose drowsy beauty, capable of such sudden awakenings, hers seems half akin; they move before us in a kind of hieratic pantomime, a coloured, expressive thing, signifying nothing.

    Figures of Several Centuries Arthur Symons 1905

  • 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 James Baikie 1898

  • The treatment of the head and hair is distinctly Cypriote in style, while the rigidity of the pose, and the "hieratic" position of the feet and arms, are as distinctly Egyptian.

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers 1891

  • Nothing has yet been said about the cursive writings of the Egyptians; but they had two cursive writings – namely, the "hieratic," and the "demotic."

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers 1891

  • The Strangford Apollo, the Apollo of Thera, and the Apollo of Tenea, are even represented in the canonical, or "hieratic" attitude, with clenched hands, and arms straightened to the sides, which stamps all Egyptian figure-sculpture in stone.

    Pharaohs, Fellahs and Explorers 1891


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  • "Pullings turned to Norton, the mate of the watch, and said, 'Make it twelve,' in a strong, hieratic voice."

    --P. O'Brian, The Wine-Dark Sea, 221

    Aah. Now I get why the guy on that one tarot card is called "the hierophant."

    March 16, 2008

  • Where bees ... sleep out the blizzard

    Like hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.

    from "Electra on Azalea Path," Sylvia Plath

    April 6, 2008

  • Citation on gamin.

    June 20, 2008

  • cf demotic

    June 20, 2008