Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

hieroglyphic

[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-]
See more synonyms for hieroglyphic on Thesaurus.com
adjective
  1. Also hi·er·o·glyph·i·cal. 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.
Show More
noun
  1. Also hi·er·o·glyph. a hieroglyphic symbol.
  2. Usually hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.
  3. a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.
  4. hieroglyphics, handwriting, figures, characters, code, etc., difficult to decipher: the confusing hieroglyphics of advanced mathematics.
Show More

Origin of hieroglyphic

1575–85; < Late Latin hieroglyphicus < Greek hieroglyphikós “pertaining to sacred writing.” See hiero-, glyph, -ic
Related formshi·er·o·glyph·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

typefiguremonogramemblemnumbermarkcipherletterlogodevicenumeralsignhieroglyphrunefundamentalsmorphemeselementssyllabarysymbolsideograph

Examples from the Web for hieroglyph

Historical Examples

  • His memorandum, indeed, was as cryptic as an Egyptian hieroglyph.

    The Borough Treasurer

    Joseph Smith Fletcher

  • The god was never a symbol or hieroglyph representing the sun.

    A Miscellany of Men

    G. K. Chesterton

  • For him a picture is more or less a hieroglyph or symbol of story.

    The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

    James McNeill Whistler

  • Pierre knew very well what a hieroglyph was, but dared not speak.

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

  • All in me and out of me is only the hieroglyph of a power which is like to me.

    The Philosophical Letters

    Friedrich Schiller


British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyph

hieroglyphic

adjective Also: hieroglyphical
  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
Show More
noun Also: hieroglyph
  1. a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
  2. a symbol or picture that is difficult to read or decipher
Show More
Derived Formshieroglyphically, adverbhieroglyphist (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

Word Origin and History for hieroglyph

n.

1590s, shortening of hieroglyphic (n.), 1590s; see hieroglyphic.

Show More

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper