Definition of hieratic in English:



  • 1Of or concerning priests.

    ‘he raised both his arms in an outlandish hieratic gesture’
    • ‘The Eucharist in particular was transformed from a celebration whose origins in a shared meal were still recognizable into a hieratic pageant at which the laity were increasingly spectators rather than active participants.’
    • ‘A related influence on liturgical ceremonial was imperial court practice, contributing still more to the transformation of the Eucharistic liturgy from common meal to hieratic pageant.’
    priestly, clerical, ecclesiastical, ministerial
    1. 1.1Of or in the ancient Egyptian writing of abridged hieroglyphics used by priests.
      Compare with demotic
      ‘Hieroglyphs for writing and counting gave way to a hieratic script for both writing and numerals.’
      • ‘Like the hieroglyphs, the hieratic symbols changed over time but they underwent more changes with six distinct periods.’
      • ‘Then, in 1785, Charles Joseph de Guignes suggested that the three known Egyptian scripts (hieroglyphic, the early cursive script hieratic, and demotic) were connected.’
      • ‘It is no coincidence that the 4th Dynasty shows the first flourishing of the hieratic script, the cursive, simplified form of hieroglyphics that would henceforth be used in all non-monumental writings.’
      • ‘The alphabet probably was created soon afterward to translate holy texts, replacing Aramaic and Greek scripts and producing both the hieratic script and the contemporary secular alphabet.’
    2. 1.2Of or concerning Egyptian or Greek styles of art adhering to early methods as laid down by religious tradition.
      ‘This trend led into the hieratic style of early Christian art, where pictorial illusion was less important than putting over clear messages.’
      • ‘They seem to speak for a civilization, not just an artist, much like the stone heads on Easter Island or the hieratic statuary of Egyptian art.’
      • ‘Carved on four sides with reliefs depicting members of the imperial house in attendance at the circus games, the base embodies the abstract, hieratic form that had become the norm in official works of art by the end of the fourth century.’
      • ‘Despite their loose execution, most of these single-figure compositions are rather stiff and hieratic.’
      • ‘There were developments in technology, organization, fortification, and in battle itself, although the hieratic pictures on temple walls convey a timelessness in which the pharaohs are shown seizing and dispatching their enemies.’



/ˌhī(ə)ˈradik/ /ˌhaɪ(ə)ˈrædɪk/


Mid 17th century (earlier as hieratical): via Latin from Greek hieratikos, from hierasthai ‘be a priest’, from hiereus ‘priest’, hieros ‘sacred’.