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[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-] /ˌhaɪ ər əˈglɪf ɪk, ˌhaɪ rə-/
Also, hieroglyphical. designating or pertaining to a pictographic script, particularly that of the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are conventionalized, recognizable pictures of the things represented.
inscribed with hieroglyphic symbols.
hard to decipher; hard to read.
Also, hieroglyph. a hieroglyphic symbol.
Usually, hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.
a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.
hieroglyphics, handwriting, figures, characters, code, etc., difficult to decipher:
the confusing hieroglyphics of advanced mathematics.
Origin of hieroglyphic
1575-85; < Late Latin hieroglyphicus < Greek hieroglyphikós “pertaining to sacred writing.” See hiero-, glyph, -ic
Related forms
hieroglyphically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hieroglyphic
Historical Examples
  • It's a long trail from the old plow factory to the hieroglyphic spring, Roger.

    The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
  • I was brought up to a farm life: it is surely no hieroglyphic to me.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • These months received each a name, and were of course designated by a hieroglyphic.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • But the Incas had no hieroglyphic or pictorial system of recording events.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • Specimens of their hieroglyphic writings have been given in the preceding chapter.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • It has, apparently, but one hieroglyphic, or symbolic figure.

    The Indian in his Wigwam Henry R. Schoolcraft
  • He adds that there is another like hieroglyphic, which, as it is not very important, he will pass over.

    Ex Voto Samuel Bulter
  • Its hieroglyphic name is Ankh, and its signification is “to live.”

    The Swastika

    Thomas Wilson
  • The hieroglyphic of this king is, in fact, an arrow striking heaven.

    The Indian Scout Gustave Aimard
  • I have left to the last the subject of the hieroglyphic inscriptions.

    A Glimpse at Guatemala Anne Cary Maudslay
British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyphic


of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt
written with hieroglyphic symbols
difficult to read or decipher
a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
a symbol or picture that is difficult to read or decipher
Derived Forms
hieroglyphically, adverb
hieroglyphist (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪst; ˌhaɪəˈrɒɡ-) noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hierogluphikos, from hiero- + gluphē carving, from gluphein to carve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hieroglyphic

1580s (adj. and n.), from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hieroglyphikos "hieroglyphic; of Egyptian writing," from hieros "sacred" (see ire) + glyphe "carving," from glyphein "to carve" (see glyph). Plutarch began the custom of using the adjective (ta hieroglyphika) as a noun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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