Definition of hieroglyphic in English:



  • 1Writing consisting of hieroglyphs.

    ‘without the Rosetta Stone, it is likely that Egyptian hieroglyphics would still be a mystery’
    • ‘The mission is named after the famous ‘Rosetta Stone’ - a slab of volcanic rock containing carved inscriptions written in hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘Ancient Egyptians developed a pictographic and ideographic writing system known as hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘In the 1820s, Jean-François Champollion undertook the decoding, indeed the deciphering, of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘The sad truth is that she's barely mentioned in the 3,000 years of effigies and hieroglyphics that cover the towering columns, needle-like obelisks and endless sarcophagi.’
    • ‘The word mural tends to evokes specific images, from the cave drawings of the stone age to stylised Egyptian hieroglyphics, or the Michaelangelo frescoes at the Sistine Chapel.’
    • ‘The carved inscriptions on the Stone included hieroglyphics - the written language of ancient Egypt - and Greek, which was readily understood.’
    • ‘It also delves into Howard Carter's dramatic discovery of the golden treasures lying deep in the burial chamber of the Boy King Tutankhamun, and follows the nail-biting race to crack the code of ancient hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘Their complex writing system, hieroglyphics, was considered virtually undecipherable for thousands of years.’
    • ‘Serabit Al-Khadem is known not for the Temple of Hathor and the turquoise mines alone, but also because it was here that a mysterious script was found, a script that resembles hieroglyphics and appears to have evolved in Sinai.’
    • ‘So far only one monumental statue of a Persian king has turned up, a statue of Darius discovered at Susa in 1972, decorated with hieroglyphics and cuneiform.’
    • ‘The uppermost is written in hieroglyphics; the second in what is now called demotic, the common script of ancient Egypt; and the third in Greek.’
    • ‘Inscribed by the priests of Ptolemy V, it contains the same text written in Greek and in hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘Before then, the Mayans, who lived in present-day Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico, recorded hurricanes in their hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘Some think that since the Egyptians were such a close, rigid society that they invented the form of writing called hieroglyphics, but that is simply not true.’
    • ‘The same piece of text had been inscribed on the stone three times, in Greek, demotic and hieroglyphics.’
    • ‘Ancient Egyptians left behind a rich artistic heritage in the form of pyramids, pharaonic painting and sculpture, hieroglyphics, and architecture.’
    • ‘Rosetta's name comes from the famous ‘Rosetta Stone’, from which Egyptian hieroglyphics were deciphered almost 200 years ago.’
    • ‘But of course the great intellectual barrier that Champollion had to overcome was this long-held assumption that hieroglyphics were just picture writing.’
    • ‘This was well before the discoveries which were used to argue a universal Stone Age for humanity, and before the decipherment of ancient scripts such as hieroglyphics and cuneiform.’
    • ‘The Maya made paper from the bark of trees, and archaeologists have found various codices - articles written in hieroglyphics with drawings - that escaped burning by the Spanish.’
    symbols, signs, ciphers, code
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    1. 1.1 Enigmatic or incomprehensible symbols or writing.
      ‘notebooks filled with illegible hieroglyphics’
      • ‘He accessed the file - unreadable junk, nothing but hieroglyphics and squiggles on the screen.’
      • ‘There was much furtive whispering and glancing in my direction - who is this strange lao wai, with two cameras and writing strange hieroglyphics in his little notebook?’
      • ‘I had aced the course in high school, so what were these hieroglyphics that the professor scribbled on the blackboard with such gusto?’
      • ‘But as electronic ear tags ease the need for old-fashioned, iron-seared symbols, cattle brands will once again become hieroglyphics.’
      • ‘I'd been told that all the signs in the capital Sofia were bilingual but this is not the case. Apart from a couple of government buildings, everything sports the same baffling hieroglyphics.’
      • ‘And from the standpoint of medicine as an art for the prevention and cure of disease, the man who translates the hieroglyphics of science into the plain language of healing is certainly the more useful.’
      scribble, scrawl, illegible writing, squiggles, jottings, writing, shorthand
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  • 1Of or written in hieroglyphs.

    ‘hieroglyphic script’
    ‘a hieroglyphic sign’
    • ‘Though hundreds of Maya books were burned, we do have their visual art and their hieroglyphic inscriptions to partially reveal a poetics we are only beginning to understand.’
    • ‘For hundreds of years, from the Spanish conquest onward, Maya hieroglyphic writing was a mystery to those attempting to read it.’
    • ‘The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system was likely invented to help with trade, allowing merchants record their wares and account for their stock.’
    • ‘Maya hieroglyphic texts use a set vocabulary of expressions to refer to altars and pedestals; most of these terms continue to frustrate firm phonetic decipherment.’
    • ‘Early hieroglyphic numerals can be found on temples, stone monuments and vases.’
    • ‘The hieroglyphic inscription, although carved with hesitancy, is grammatically proper Egyptian.’
    • ‘The hieroglyphic texts name the figures, artists and dates of commemorated events.’
    • ‘Amazingly a curious pagan or early Christian 6 ft. tomb stone with hieroglyphic inscriptions is still standing in absolute majesty despite centuries of Atlantic weather conditions.’
    • ‘In recent decades, anthropologists and archaeologists have been able to decipher large parts of the hieroglyphic code.’
    • ‘Examining texts brought from Egypt, he began to identify a relationship between hieroglyphic and non-hieroglyphic scripts.’
    • ‘Then, in 1799 near the town of Rosetta, a French explorer found a 2,000-year-old stone slab that had extensive hieroglyphic inscriptions and a perfect Greek translation beneath it.’
    • ‘There are few papyri from his reign, but hieroglyphic inscriptions from the Delta (especially the ‘Satrap Stele’) present him as a traditional pharaoh.’
    • ‘Today, brilliant work by a small band of epigraphers, has resulted in Maya hieroglyphic texts - once dismissed as indecipherable - becoming understood well enough to yield some narrative history.’
    • ‘The hieroglyphic image for this word was simply a picture of a seated cat facing to the left, with its tail curled along its left side.’
    • ‘Dated 196 B.C., the stone is engraved with Greek and hieroglyphic texts that enabled scholars to decipher ancient Egyptian writing.’
    • ‘The depiction of a ruler, together with the hieroglyphic inscription, suggests that it had a commemorative function, much like a Maya stele.’
    • ‘He used the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the fallen obelisk which he removed from Philae and the Greek text on its pedestal to further the decipherment of hieroglyphs by his recognition of the name Cleopatra.’
    • ‘But because the Greek version could be read without difficulty, it served as an invaluable prompt to the decipherment of the cursive and the hieroglyphic versions.’
    • ‘Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions in tombs epitomise the idea that the voices of the dead can be heard again through the written word.’
    • ‘From conservation work done on this structure, it is known that it goes back at least as early as the 1st century AD, and poorly preserved Greek and hieroglyphic inscriptions hint at an earlier Ptolemaic date.’
    1. 1.1 Of the nature of a hieroglyph; symbolic or enigmatic.
      • ‘Frosted light from lanterns, images of dragons, porcelain figurines, and banners with hieroglyphic messages, enhanced the decor of the restaurant, while soft and relaxing music played gently in the background.’
      • ‘In the late 1930s and early '40s, Loren MacIver developed a sweet, playful style that superimposed linear, symbolic and hieroglyphic forms on soft, pale washes of color.’
      • ‘Like the indigenous tribes of Latin America or Africa I was using art as a hieroglyphic language, a language capable of transcending all the borders and cultural differences.’
      symbolic, stylized, figurative, emblematic
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Late 16th century: from French hiéroglyphique, from Greek hierogluphikos, from hieros ‘sacred’ + gluphē ‘carving’.