I just want to know what words ancient Egyptians might have used for "country", "nation", "state", "kingdom", and "empire" (especially empire), preferably in their oldest forms. Can anybody help me out with that?

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    The question is about languages, rather than history. There's also no sign of prior research. The help pages will give you a better idea of how to make use of this site. Oct 11, 2019 at 6:58
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    I'm not one of those who voted, but you might find the question Why did my question get a downvote? on our meta site helpful. Oct 11, 2019 at 7:00
  • I only found this site because of another linguistic question that was in this category, and since it wasn't in the negative or anything, I assumed it was safe to ask my question here. Also, what am I supposed to include as a sign of prior research? It sounds like you wouldn't just take my word that I tried to find it myself, and that it was the search for this stuff that actually lead me here. Furthermore, why is that required? This site, or at least this section of this site, is for asking questions, is it not? Oct 11, 2019 at 7:06
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    @MichaelRosa Welcome to History:SE. Questions about ancient languages can get a mixed reception here. However, as a rule, questions are usually better received when they include some detail about where people have searched, what they found (if anything), and (ideally) why that was insufficient. That helps our users avoid duplicating searches or just posting answers that simply repeat what has already been found. Oct 11, 2019 at 7:47
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    @JohnDallman As Will Durrant would say, a study of history without the understanding of the nuances of language would be incomplete. In this case, the mere fact that ancient Egyptian did not have words for these concepts tells us vastly more about them than we would know otherwise. Sure, a debate on ancient grammar would be off topic but at least we can steer, in our answers, the conversation to something that is better suited for this site.
    – Apoorv
    Oct 11, 2019 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


The Ancient Egyptians didn't really have words that quite matched those concepts. Their world-view was very different from ours.

Perhaps the nearest was the "hill country" hieroglyph hill-country hieroglyph (usually transliterated as 'xAst') which was often used as a determinative for foreign lands. This could also be spelled out, rather than using the single hieroglyph, for example as

alternative rendering of hill-country


another alternative rendering of hill-country

These words might appear also in their own right in contexts where we translate them to mean "foreign land".

There are a few dictionaries of Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs available online, including this searchable pdf version which you might find of use.

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    Thank you for being constructive. Oct 11, 2019 at 7:32
  • I realize this was probably the best you could do, but that looks more to me like their equivalent of "barbarian".
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:48
  • @T.E.D. Perhaps in the original Greek sense of the word, but certainly not in the modern sense. The determinative was used with the Hatti (Hittite Empire), for example. Oct 11, 2019 at 14:03
  • Yes, I meant in exactly the original Greek sense of the word (odd that I didn't think to clarify that).
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 14:11

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