Definition of hieroglyph in US English:



  • A stylized picture of an object representing a word, syllable, or sound, as found in ancient Egyptian and other writing systems.

    • ‘There, she uncovered a chest of papyrus scrolls and parchments upon which were written ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.’
    • ‘On a table in his office, Pandit keeps a replica of the Rosetta stone, the key that enabled archaeologists finally to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.’
    • ‘The book of the series, also called The Science Of Secrecy, expands and illuminates the same topics, including the cipher of Mary Queen of Scots, how Egyptian hieroglyphs were read and the Enigma machine.’
    • ‘She is believed to have negotiated a highly profitable oil deal with the Nabatean Arabs, and she was the only member of the ruling Macedonian Greek elite who knew how to read hieroglyphs; she also spoke many foreign languages.’
    • ‘Scribes carved hieroglyphs on stone stelae, altars, wooden lintels, and roof beams, or painted them on ceramic vessels and in books made of bark paper.’
    • ‘It seems that Egyptians continued to use hieroglyphs from around 3000 b.c. until the time of the Roman Empire.’
    • ‘She walked on, ignoring the many hieroglyphs and pictures painted and carved onto the stone walls, instead walking towards the doorway at the opposite end of the hall.’
    • ‘Ancient hieroglyphs and artwork were etched upon the walls.’
    • ‘A stone floor, engraved with both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Roman numerals, occupies the ground between them.’
    • ‘The name Sekem is a transliteration of an ancient hieroglyph meaning ‘vitality from the sun.’’
    • ‘It was covered with black symbols that might have been Egyptian hieroglyphs or Chinese characters or some strange hybrid of the two.’
    • ‘The ancient Egyptians either engraved the hieroglyphs in the stonework of their temples or painted them on the walls of the burial chamber or inscribed them with a reed pen on rolls of papyrus, the antecedent of our paper.’
    • ‘For centuries, the meaning of the mysterious and mystical Egyptian hieroglyphs baffled the greatest minds in the world.’
    • ‘He studied Egyptian hieroglyphs and helped Bernini with his fountain in the Piazza Navona.’
    • ‘The Egyptian hieroglyph for ‘city’ was a circle surrounding a cross; but squares and grids were always the more favoured geometry of utopian planners.’
    • ‘In much of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Pharaoh was often depicted as almost larger than life, with great power and much of Egyptian art is a celebration of his accomplishments.’
    • ‘Going back a little further, we see that writers associated with the French occult revival at the end of the eighteenth century began to link the Tarot, first with Egyptian hieroglyphs, then with the Kabbala.’
    • ‘Five columns of Egyptian hieroglyphs run below the cornice and read from right to left, ‘the great one [ruler] of the land of Ugarit, Niqma'd.’’
    • ‘But for 1400 years the meaning of the hieroglyphs - and therefore knowledge of ancient Egyptian civilisation - remained this huge mystery.’
    • ‘He then translates hieratic writing into hieroglyphs.’


Late 16th century: back-formation from hieroglyphic.