hieroglyph \hi"er*o*glyph\ (?), hieroglyphic \hi`er*o*glyph"ic\ (?), ] n. [cf. f. hiéroglyphe. see hieroglyphic, a.] 1. a sacred character; a character in picture writing, as of the ancient egyptians, mexicans, etc. specifically, in the plural, the picture writing of the ancient egyptian priests. it is made up of three, or, as some say, four classes of characters: first, the hieroglyphic proper, or figurative, in which the representation of the object conveys the idea of the object itself; second, the ideographic, consisting of symbols representing ideas, not sounds, as an ostrich feather is a symbol of truth; third, the phonetic, consisting of symbols employed as syllables of a word, or as letters of the alphabet, having a certain sound, as a hawk represented the vowel a. 2. any character or figure which has, or is supposed to have, a hidden or mysterious significance; hence, any unintelligible or illegible character or mark. [colloq.] [
A hieroglyph (Greek for "sacred writing") is a character of the ancient Egyptian writing system. Logographic scripts that are pictographic in form in a way reminiscent of ancient Egyptian are also sometimes called "hieroglyphs". In Neoplatonism, especially during the Renaissance, a "hieroglyph" was an artistic representation of an esoteric idea, which Neoplatonists believed actual Egyptian hieroglyphs to be. The word hieroglyphics may refer to a hieroglyphic script.
Noun 1. writing that resembles hieroglyphics (usually by being illegible) (synonym) hieroglyphic (hypernym) writing 2. a writing system using picture symbols; used in ancient Egypt (synonym) hieroglyphic (hypernym) orthography, writing system (hyponym) hieratic, hieratic script