Definition of demotic in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /dəˈmädik/


1Denoting or relating to the kind of language used by ordinary people; popular or colloquial: a demotic idiom
More example sentences
  • I can remember my sister using it in the late forties, and through such oral usage it must have been kept alive until a greater use of demotic language in the press and elsewhere in the eighties brought it to wider public notice.
  • Brooklyn belongs to a genre characterized by less sophistication, less complex melody and harmony, more demotic language, looser rhyming, in-your-face attitudes, and rampant reiteration.
  • There, around a campfire, his boyhood games of piracy and Robin Hood met the tall tale and the demotic idiom.
popular, vernacular, colloquial, idiomatic, vulgar, common;
informal, everyday, slangy
1.1Relating to or denoting the form of modern Greek used in everyday speech and writing. Compare with katharevousa.
Example sentences
  • Like all European nations at the dawn of modern nationalism, Greece was not even sure of its language, and Greeks experimented with both a synthetic ‘purified’ tongue and demotic speech.
  • In 1967 demotic Greek was recognized as the official spoken and written language of Greece and is the language adopted for liturgical services by the Greek Orthodox church in the United States.
  • Seferis extended the use of demotic Greek in poetry and expressed themes of exile and historical fragmentation in more personal ways, making his poems attractive to Greek readers as well as foreigners.
1.2Relating to or denoting a simplified, cursive form of ancient Egyptian script, dating from circa 650 bc and replaced by Greek in the Ptolemaic period. Compare with hieratic.
Example sentences
  • It was the stone that helped decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs as it had translations in of ancient text in Egyptian demotic script, Greek, and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  • Internally, an increasing number of Greek and demotic Egyptian papyri illuminate a developing bureaucracy and control of the population through a tax system based on a census and land-survey.
  • The stone, as you probably know, is inscribed with three forms of writing: Greek, hieroglyphic, and a less ornate, demotic form of Egyptian.


1Ordinary colloquial speech.
Example sentences
  • There's a kind of staidness and a kind of fear, I suppose, of playfulness, of merriment, of the colloquial and the demotic.
  • To be fair, at the end, she unwound a little and started talking a more natural Estuary demotic which was much more appealing.
  • ‘Chaucer would have thoroughly absorbed the language of the streets, that rich polyglot mixture of Latin patois, Anglo-Norman phraseology and English demotic,’ he writes.
1.1Demotic Greek.
Example sentences
  • The same piece of text had been inscribed on the stone three times, in Greek, demotic and hieroglyphics.
  • He did it moreover, not in the literary language of his court, Persian, but in the domestic demotic of his family, Chagatay Turkish.
  • In the matter of the book at hand and its rhythmic proportions, we must remember that ancient epic in the time of Homer was chanted, not read, and that its rhythms were those of the demotic.
1.2Demotic Egyptian script.
Example sentences
  • The uppermost is written in hieroglyphics; the second in what is now called demotic, the common script of ancient Egypt; and the third in Greek.
  • The last form was called demotic - or running script by some.
  • One of the officer present, a Lieutenant Bouchard, who had trained in archaeology, identified the three bands of scripts as hieroglyphic, demotic, and ancient Greek.


Early 19th century (in the sense 'relating to the Egyptian demotic'): from Greek dēmotikos 'popular', from dēmotēs 'one of the people', from dēmos 'the people'.

Words that rhyme with demotic

abiotic, amniotic, antibiotic, chaotic, despotic, erotic, exotic, homoerotic, hypnotic, idiotic, macrobiotic, meiotic, narcotic, neurotic, osmotic, patriotic, prebiotic, psychotic, quixotic, robotic, sclerotic, semiotic, symbiotic, zygotic, zymotic

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·mot·ic

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.