[ hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh- ]
See synonyms for: hieroglyphichieroglyphics on Thesaurus.com

  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.

  1. hard to decipher; hard to read.

  1. Also hieroglyph . a hieroglyphic symbol.

  2. Usually hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.

  1. a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.

  2. 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

Other words from hieroglyphic

  • hi·er·o·glyph·i·cal·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use hieroglyphic in a sentence

  • The anaglyph was peculiar to the Egyptian priests; the hieroglyph generally known to the well educated.

    The Caxtons, Complete | Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The signs are, of course, later than the picture-writing of the hieroglyph, and also later than the linear script suited to stone.

    Sumerian Hymns | Frederick Augustus Vanderburgh
  • The only new hieroglyph is the pylon, rendered An in the cartouche.

    Cleopatra's Needle | James King
  • Concerning the interpretation of these emblems, see Joan Pierii Hieroglyph.

  • The figure of an obelisk is often used as a hieroglyph, and is generally represented standing on a low base.

    Cleopatra's Needle | James King

British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyphic


/ (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪk) /

adjectiveAlso: hieroglyphical
  1. of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt

  2. written with hieroglyphic symbols

  1. difficult to read or decipher

nounAlso: hieroglyph
  1. a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound

  2. a symbol or picture that is difficult to read or decipher

Origin of hieroglyphic

C16: from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hierogluphikos, from hiero- + gluphē carving, from gluphein to carve

Derived forms of hieroglyphic

  • hieroglyphically, adverb
  • hieroglyphist (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪst, ˌhaɪəˈrɒɡ-), noun

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