The word hieratic has two different but related definitions. We will examine the definitions of the word hieratic, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Hieratic may be used as an adjective to describe something concerning or used by priests, such as a physical item, gesture or attitude. The word hieratic may also be used to mean a certain type of Egyptian script used by Egyptian priests that was a sort of cursive shorthand for hieroglyphs. In a related meaning, hieratic may be used to describe Ancient Greek or Egyptian styles of art that adhere to religious tradition. The word hieratic is derived from the Greek word hieratikos, meaning priestly or devoted to sacred usage. Related words are hieratical and hieratically.


The hieratic, patriarchal and embattled church of the Latin Mass is his ideal, to which it seemed that the church under John Paul II and Benedict was slowly returning – until Francis started work. (The Guardian)

A hieratic, ritualistic quality also came from Liz Pearse’s singing, recitation and even composer-dictated dress. (The Chicago Tribune)

That elderly art-adoring Californian might possibly be preposterous, a Margaret Dumont–style dimwit, but she also remains a thing of wonder, hieratic and alien. (The New York Review)

Then, in 2013, during his third digging season, he came upon something quite unexpected: entire rolls of papyrus, some a few feet long and still relatively intact, written in hieroglyphics as well as hieratic, the cursive script the ancient Egyptians used for everyday communication.  (The Smithsonian Magazine)

For a long while, Greek sculpture was influenced by the blocky, hieratic creations of Egypt: usually a standing male, head and body facing forward, arms held stiffly by sides, one leg in front of the other. (The Telegraph)

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