Hi`er*at"ic (?), a. [L. hieraticus, Gr. ; akin to sacred: cf. F. hi'eratique.]
Consecrated to sacred uses; sacerdotal; pertaining to priests.
Hieratic character, a mode of ancient Egyptian writing; a modified form of hieroglyphics, tending toward a cursive hand and formerly supposed to be the sacerdotal character, as the demotic was supposed to be that of the people.
It was a false notion of the Greeks that of the three kinds of writing used by the Egyptians, two -- for that reason called hieroglyphic and hieratic -- were employed only for sacred, while the third, the demotic, was employed for secular, purposes. No such distinction is discoverable on the more ancient Egyptian monuments; but we retain the old names founded on misapprehension.
W. H. Ward (Johnson's Cyc.).
© Webster 1913.