Monday, January 09, 2017

Word of the day: hieratic

The word of the day is hieratic:

  1. Also, hi·er·at·i·cal. of or pertaining to priests or the priesthood; sacerdotal; priestly.
  2. noting or pertaining to a form of ancient Egyptian writing consisting of abridged forms of hieroglyphics, used by the priests in their records.
  3. noting or pertaining to certain styles in art in which the representations or methods are fixed by or as if by religious tradition.
  4. highly restrained or severe in emotional import
1656 (implied in hieratical), from Gk.hieratikos, from hierateia "priesthood,"from hierasthai "be priest," fromhiereus "priest," from hieros "sacred."


"At the same time, its static, hieratic text, derived largely from ancient Egyptian and Akkadian sources, lies far outside the operatic norm, and makes most American librettos of recent decades look bland"

 - Alex Ross, "Pyramids and Wikileaks: Modern opera thrives in Los Angeles", 12 December 2016 The New Yorker (

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