Definition of glyph in English:



  • 1A hieroglyphic character or symbol.

    ‘flanges painted with esoteric glyphs’
    • ‘The glyph for Neptune is the symbol of a trident, which stands for rulership over the sea.’
    • ‘Schulman interprets the glyph as two Crescents of Soul interconnected via a Cross of Matter.’
    • ‘I even spent an afternoon studying a book devoted to drawings of various Goddess symbols and glyphs found on ancient artifacts.’
    • ‘In addition to the pure luxury of the items in the tent, and the canvas itself, everything in the room crawled with magic symbols and glyphs.’
    • ‘Deciphering writing systems, whether the Etruscan alphabet or Zapotec glyphs, is comparable in complexity to cracking the genetic code.’
    • ‘It especially rules women, as indicated by the glyph, which is the universal symbol for womankind.’
    • ‘She took it lovingly, handling it so carefully, and read over the glyphs, the language of magic, several times.’
    • ‘Glowing glyphs appeared on the edges, in some archaic, unknown language.’
    • ‘When they were first discovered, the glyphs in Mud Glyph Cave clearly resembled Southern Cult icons seen in the work of Mississippian peoples in the Southeast.’
    • ‘He summoned the energies not just through the focus he wore about his neck, but also through the glyphs and foci embedded in the excessive number of protective wards he had placed around the balcony and tower.’
    • ‘‘Apartment 1004,’ she said, reading the Hebrew glyphs.’
    • ‘Hence the Celtic designs on Irish crosses that closely resembled Druidic glyphs or Haitian Voodoo rituals that fuse the worship of Catholic saints with that of African Loas.’
    • ‘Carefully consulting the book, he scrawled various glyphs and runes at certain points in the design.’
    • ‘The author renders the word tradition into a signifier of doubtful intentions, a glyph whose meaning has yet to be ascertained.’
    • ‘Basically, it's a series of implosions with glowing glyphs or runes.’
    • ‘The mat is charged with odd symbols and glyphs arranged in a circle between two concentric rings.’
    • ‘As she did so, she noticed the glyph that decorated the center of the cross guard.’
    • ‘What they could not have known was that each of the defensive glyphs and runes had been designed to fail in a specific way, directing the explosive fury of the failing magical matrix outward, away from the Royal Hall.’
    • ‘And there's this text, just sitting there, and it's clear as day, so distinct from the glyphs we've seen even at 100 B.C.’
    • ‘Because there are more than 4700 known glyphs - including almost 800 basic ones, of which some 400 are considered common - this has always been a lengthy and laborious task.’
    1. 1.1A sculptured symbol (e.g. as forming the ancient Mayan writing system)
      ‘these glyphs refer to an ancient Olmec ruler’
      • ‘An extinct script, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, Babylonian cuneiform or the glyphs of the ancient Maya of Central America, may strike us as little short of miraculous and bizarrely different from our own alphabetic scripts.’
      • ‘As the breakthrough of recent years in the decipherment of Mayan glyphs reminds us, there are secrets in the ‘new-found’ land of America still to be unearthed.’
      • ‘Mayan examples are identified by glyphs and attributes, and are understood to represent specific subjects.’
      • ‘Now showing with Liverpool Street Gallery, Watkins' canvases are arrayed around the room like blocky Mayan glyphs done in colour combinations that take years to master.’
      • ‘Maya tombs might bear directional glyphs on walls corresponding to each of the cardinal directions, as on the walls of Rio Azul Tomb 12, a royal or very elite burial from the fifth century CE.’
      • ‘But until recently, when linguists like David Kelley were able to translate Mayan glyphs, we knew very little about the Mayans.’
      • ‘As my creativity tends to burble out chaotically, I've been trying to regulate my study, however, I've only really had any success with the Mayan calendar glyphs.’
      • ‘To make the glyphs, the ancient carvers used chisels, probably of hard, fine-grained quartzite, which they struck with hammers of stone or antler, each blow chipping out one small stone flake.’
      • ‘It was understood that a large percentage of the glyphs on any given Maya monument were dates - dates, moreover, that placed each object within an elaborate and incredibly precise series of calendrical cycles.’
    2. 1.2Computing A small graphic symbol.
      • ‘As I remarked, no font distinguishes the functions by consistent uses of these differently shaped glyphs.’
      • ‘In April 1997, Xerox said that Palm, then owned by US Robotics, had infringed that patent when it released Graffiti, a series of ‘shorthand’ symbols drawn instead of real character glyphs.’
      • ‘Topics covered are: fonts, size, color, leading, kerning, tracking, paragraph spacing and alignment, hyphenation and composition, glyphs and special characters.’
      • ‘To get around them, senders have resorted to representing these words using other characters and punctuation as glyphs to create letter and word shapes that our smart eyes and brains can discern, but stupid junk mail filters can't.’
      • ‘The empty boxes are just a matter of fonts lacking the diacritic glyphs - OK, that's just a residue of history.’
  • 2Architecture
    An ornamental carved groove or channel, as on a Greek frieze.

    • ‘According to glyphs carved on a stone altar, Yax K'uk Mo arrived at Copán on 8 February 427, five months after his coronation on 5 September 426.’


Late 18th century (in glyph): from French glyphe, from Greek gluphē carving.