hieroglyphic

[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-]

adjective

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.
inscribed with hieroglyphic symbols.
hard to decipher; hard to read.

noun


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. 2019

Examples from the Web for hieroglyphics

Historical Examples of hieroglyphics

  • The signet is hung upon a swivel, and has hieroglyphics on what may be called the reverse.

  • He is so old that there is moss on the north side of him and hieroglyphics on his feet.

    Cordwood

    Edgar Wilson (Bill) Nye

  • It is the oldest form of irrigation; the hieroglyphics show that it was in use in Egypt five thousand years ago.

    The Ship Dwellers

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • There were several grottos, and also an ancient tomb with hieroglyphics sculptured on the rock.

  • Often he had hieroglyphics to decipher which would have given trouble to a professor of paleontology.



British Dictionary definitions for hieroglyphics

hieroglyphics

noun (functioning as singular or plural)

a form of writing, esp as used in ancient Egypt, in which pictures or symbols are used to represent objects, concepts, or sounds
difficult or undecipherable writing

hieroglyphic

adjective Also: hieroglyphical

of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt
written with hieroglyphic symbols
difficult to read or decipher

noun Also: hieroglyph

a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
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 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

Culture definitions for hieroglyphics

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.