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Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. It combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood. The later hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts are derived from hieroglyphic writing; Meroitic was a late derivation from demotic.


The word¬†hieroglyph¬†comes from the¬†Greek¬†adjective (hieroglyphikos), a¬†compound¬†of (hier√≥s¬†'sacred') and (gl√ĹphŇ欆'őô carve, engrave'; supposedly a¬†calque¬†of an¬†Egyptian¬†phrase¬†mdw¬∑w-nŠĻĮr¬†(medu-netjer) "god's words". The glyphs themselves were called ¬†(t√† hieroglyphik√† gr√°mmata) "the sacred engraved letters". The word¬†hieroglyph¬†has become a noun in English, standing for an individual hieroglyphic character.¬†