Hieroglyph vs hierograph

Photo of author


Hieroglyph and hierograph are two different words that are spelled and pronounced similarly, but have two different meanings. We will look at the difference in meaning between hieroglyph and hierograph, the origin of these two terms, and some examples of sentences using these words.

A hieroglyph is a form of picture-writing. A hieroglyph may symbolize a thing, concept or sound of a word. Probably the best known example of hieroglyphs is found in Egypt. Though Egyptian hieroglyphs had been studied for a long time, their meaning wasn’t deciphered until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is a rock with the same decree written in three languages: Ancient Greek, Demotic, and Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was translated in the early 1800s. The word hieroglyph is a back-formation from the word hieroglyphic, derived from the Greek word hieroglyphikos which literally means sacred carving.

The word hierograph describes sacred writing or sacred symbols. This word is rarely used anymore, but the related word, hierography which means a treatise concerning sacred things or religion is slightly more common. The word hierograph is derived from the Greek word hiero which means sacred and graph which means writing or writer.


You can see the outlines of a set of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs carved delicately into the stone. (The Smithsonian Magazine)

Two hieroglyphic panels thought to have been part of a ceremonial staircase at the Maya site of Caracol in Belize have been found near a newly discovered tomb in Xunantunich, about 26 miles away. (Archaeology Magazine)

The image was taken in 1944, the same year his exhibition “Ten Hierographic Paintings by Sgt. Romare Bearden” was on view at The G Place Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Culture Type Magazine)