[hahy-uh-rat-ik, hahy-rat-]
  1. Also hi·er·at·i·cal. of or relating to priests or the priesthood; sacerdotal; priestly.
  2. noting or pertaining to a form of ancient Egyptian writing consisting of abridged forms of hieroglyphics, used by the priests in their records.
  3. noting or pertaining to certain styles in art in which the representations or methods are fixed by or as if by religious tradition.
  4. highly restrained or severe in emotional import: Some of the more hieratic sculptures leave the viewer curiously unmoved.
  1. ancient Egyptian hieratic writing.

Origin of hieratic

1650–60; < Latin hierāticus < Greek hierātikós pertaining to the priesthood, priestly, equivalent to hierā-, variant stem of hierâsthai to perform priestly functions (verbal derivative of hierós sacred; see hiero-) + -ikos -ic, with -t- by analogy with derivatives from agent nouns in -tēs (cf. athlete, athletic)
Related formshi·er·at·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·hi·er·at·ic, adjectivenon·hi·er·at·i·cal, adjectivenon·hi·er·at·i·cal·ly, adverbun·hi·er·at·ic, adjectiveun·hi·er·at·i·cal, adjectiveun·hi·er·at·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of hieratic

British Dictionary definitions for hieratic


adjective Also: hieratical
  1. of or relating to priests
  2. of or relating to a cursive form of hieroglyphics used by priests in ancient Egypt
  3. of or relating to styles in art that adhere to certain fixed types or methods, as in ancient Egypt
  1. the hieratic script of ancient Egypt
Derived Formshieratically, adverb

Word Origin for hieratic

C17: from Latin hierāticus, from Greek hieratikos, from hiereus a priest, from hieros holy
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

Word Origin and History for hieratic

"pertaining to sacred things," 1650s (implied in hieratical), from Latin hieraticus, from Greek hieratikos "pertaining to a priest or his office, priestly," from hierateia "priesthood," from hiereus "priest," from hieros "sacred, holy, hallowed; superhuman, mighty; divine" (see ire).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper