A hieroglyph is a picture that represents a word or part of a word. Several ancient cultures, including Egyptians and Mayans, used hieroglyphs as part of their writing systems.

The earliest hieroglyphs archaeologists have found were carved in stone around 3000 BCE, in Egypt. These symbols and pictures were clearly not just illustrations, but part of a true written language . Each hieroglyph stood for an object or action, represented the sound of a syllable, and made the meaning of surrounding hieroglyphs clear. The Greek roots of this word are hieros, "sacred," and glyphe, "carving."

Definitions of hieroglyph
  1. noun
    a writing system using picture symbols; used in ancient Egypt
    synonyms: hieroglyphic
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    hieratic, hieratic script
    a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphics; used especially by the priests
    Demotic, Demotic script
    a simplified cursive form of the ancient hieratic script
    type of:
    orthography, writing system
    a method of representing the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols
  2. noun
    writing that resembles hieroglyphics (usually by being illegible)
    synonyms: hieroglyphic
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    type of:
    letters or symbols that are written or imprinted on a surface to represent the sounds or words of a language
Word Family