hieroglyphic

[hahy-er-uh-glif-ik, hahy-ruh-]
adjective
1.
Also, hieroglyphical. designating or pertaining to a pictographic script, particularly that of the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are conventionalized, recognizable pictures of the things represented.
2.
inscribed with hieroglyphic symbols.
3.
hard to decipher; hard to read.
noun
4.
Also, hieroglyph. a hieroglyphic symbol.
5.
Usually, hieroglyphics. hieroglyphic writing.
6.
a figure or symbol with a hidden meaning.
7.
hieroglyphics, handwriting, figures, characters, code, etc., difficult to decipher: the confusing hieroglyphics of advanced mathematics.

Origin:
1575–85; < Late Latin hieroglyphicus < Greek hieroglyphikós pertaining to sacred writing. See hiero-, glyphic

hieroglyphically, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
hieroglyphic (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪk)
 
adj
1.  of or relating to a form of writing using picture symbols, esp as used in ancient Egypt
2.  written with hieroglyphic symbols
3.  difficult to read or decipher
 
n
4.  a picture or symbol representing an object, concept, or sound
5.  a symbol or picture that is difficult to read or decipher
 
[C16: from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hierogluphikos, from hiero- + gluphē carving, from gluphein to carve]
 
hiero'glyphically
 
adv
 
hieroglyphist
 
n

hieroglyphics (ˌhaɪərəˈɡlɪfɪks)
 
n
1.  a form of writing, esp as used in ancient Egypt, in which pictures or symbols are used to represent objects, concepts, or sounds
2.  difficult or undecipherable writing

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

hieroglyphic
1585, from L.L. hieroglyphicus, from Gk. hieroglyphikos, from hieros "sacred" + glyphe "carving," from glyphein "to carve." Plutarch began the custom of using the adj. (ta hieroglyphika) as a noun.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
hieroglyphics [(heye-uhr-uh-glif-iks, heye-ruh-glif-iks)]

A system of writing with pictures that represent words or sounds. The ancient Egyptians wrote with hieroglyphics. (See Rosetta stone.)

Note: Present-day writing that is hard to decipher or understand is sometimes jokingly called “hieroglyphics.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
They are learning to decipher the hieroglyphics of their ancestors -- a vast
  legacy left on stone, bark paper, and ceramic.
Egyptians included in their hieroglyphics a symbol for the electric catfish of
  the Nile.
He did not go to college, but learned Egyptian hieroglyphics and five languages
  as a teenager.
The mantel is topped by a triangular slab decorated with hieroglyphics, a
  scarab, winged figures.
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