Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

2017 Word of the Year

hieroglyphic

[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-] /ˌhaɪ ər əˈglɪf ɪk, ˌhaɪ rə-/
adjective
1.
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.
2.
inscribed with hieroglyphic symbols.
3.
hard to decipher; hard to read.
noun
4.
Also, hieroglyph. a hieroglyphic symbol.
5.
Usually, hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.
6.
a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.
7.
hieroglyphics, handwriting, figures, characters, code, etc., difficult to decipher:
the confusing hieroglyphics of advanced mathematics.
Origin of hieroglyphic
1575-1585
1575-85; < Late Latin hieroglyphicus < Greek hieroglyphikós “pertaining to sacred writing.” See hiero-, glyph, -ic
Related forms
hieroglyphically, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for hieroglyphics
Historical Examples
  • But, unfamiliar with hieroglyphics, his handiwork was lost upon her.

    St. Cuthbert's Robert E. Knowles
  • In Egyptian hieroglyphics the symbol for stone is used as the determinative for Set.

    The Evolution of the Dragon G. Elliot Smith
  • I shall not, in this connection, enter into a discussion of the nature of these hieroglyphics.

  • hieroglyphics of thought were there, too mysterious for the common eye to interpret.

    Ernest Linwood Caroline Lee Hentz
  • Their occupations are designated by the hieroglyphics above them.

  • They confronted Alfred with the sheets on which were scribbled the hieroglyphics.

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
  • In one of the corridors are two large tablets of hieroglyphics.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • With her forefinger she idly traced some hieroglyphics on her lap.

    The Right Knock

    Helen Van-Anderson
  • They usually bear in hieroglyphics the sixth chapter of the funeral ritual.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • They are the hieroglyphics of feudalism, succeeding those of theocracy.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyphics

hieroglyphics

/ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪks/
noun (functioning as singular or pl)
1.
a form of writing, esp as used in ancient Egypt, in which pictures or symbols are used to represent objects, concepts, or sounds
2.
difficult or undecipherable writing

hieroglyphic

/ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪk/
adjective
1.
of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt
2.
written with hieroglyphic symbols
3.
difficult to read or decipher
noun
4.
a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
5.
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for hieroglyphics
n.

1580s, from Greek ta hieroglyphika; see hieroglyphic + -ics.

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
Cite This Source
hieroglyphics in Culture
hieroglyphics [(heye-uhr-uh-glif-iks, heye-ruh-glif-iks)]

A system of writing with pictures that represent words or sounds. The ancient Egyptians wrote with hieroglyphics. (See Rosetta stone.)

Note: Present-day writing that is hard to decipher or understand is sometimes jokingly called “hieroglyphics.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for hieroglyphics

Word Value for hieroglyphics

27
28
Scrabble Words With Friends