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√ĹphŇć¬†'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.¬†