What does 'Hieroglyph' mean?

'Hieroglyph' comes from an ancient Greek word, hieroglifikos.

Hiero means sacred, or holy. Glyph means carving.

So hieroglyph means sacred carving.



If you think about it, it's easy to see why. Hieroglyphs were carved into stone in temples and tombs, and they were usually about holy things like the gods, heaven, and religious ceremonies.

The writing above, for example, is about the god Osiris, whose name is written with the throne and the eye:  

Even the Egyptian for hieroglyph, medu netjer,  means 'words of god'.


So what are hieroglyphics? Is that the same as hieroglyphs?


Yes. But the people who study ancient Egypt, called Egyptologists, don't use the word hieroglyphics. The words are hieroglyphs, the kind of writing is hieroglyphic.

So you can say the Egyptians wrote in hieroglyphic. Not hieroglyphics.