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

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

Examples from the Web for hieroglyphic

Historical Examples of hieroglyphic

  • 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.

  • But the Incas had no hieroglyphic or pictorial system of recording events.

  • Specimens of their hieroglyphic writings have been given in the preceding chapter.

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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
Derived Formshieroglyphically, adverbhieroglyphist (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪst, ˌhaɪəˈrɒɡ-), noun

Word Origin for hieroglyphic

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 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