Definitions

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

  • noun A picture or symbol used in hieroglyphic writing.
  • noun Something that suggests a hieroglyph.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The figure of any object, especially a familiar object, as an animal, tree, weapon, staff, etc., standing for a word, or a syllable, or a part of a syllable, or a single sound; a figure representing an idea; and intended to convey a meaning, thus forming part of a mode of written communication.
  • noun Any figure, character, or mark having or supposed to have a mysterious or enigmatical significance.
  • To write in hieroglyphs; represent by means of hieroglyphs.

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

  • noun A sacred character; a character used in picture writing, as of the ancient Egyptians, Mexicans, etc. Specifically, in the plural, the picture writing of the ancient Egyptian priests. It is made up of three, or, as some say, four classes of characters: first, the hieroglyphic proper, or figurative, in which the representation of the object conveys the idea of the object itself; second, the ideographic, consisting of symbols representing ideas, not sounds, as an ostrich feather is a symbol of truth; third, the phonetic, consisting of symbols employed as syllables of a word, or as letters of the alphabet, having a certain sound, as a hawk represented the vowel a.
  • noun colloq. Any character or figure which has, or is supposed to have, a hidden or mysterious significance; hence, any unintelligible or illegible character or mark.

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

  • noun An element of an ideographic (hieroglyphic) writing system.

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

  • noun a writing system using picture symbols; used in ancient Egypt
  • noun writing that resembles hieroglyphics (usually by being illegible)

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested around 1598, a back-formation from hieroglyphic, from Middle French hiéroglyphique, from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Ancient Greek ἱερογλυφικός (hieroglyphikós), derivative of ἱερογλυφη (hieroglyphē, "hieroglyphs"), compound of ἱερός (hierós, "sacred, holy") and γλύφη (glyphē, "carved work"), a translation of Ancient Egyptian

Examples

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