Cursive script which developed out of hieratic and eventually replaced it, except for religious texts, from about the 26th Dynasty on. The Greek term means 'people's (writing)' and was first used by Herodotus. In his time Demotic was mainly used for administrative and legal purposes; hieroglyphs and hieratic were still used for religious texts. Demotic continued to develop over the centuries. Although the changes took place gradually, the following phases have been identified:
Demotic texts could be written on all kinds of surfaces. Alongside texts on papyrus there are ostraca and wooden labels, for example mummy tags. Demotic texts also appear on stelae, but only occasionally. One famous example is the Rosetta Stone, where Demotic appears alongside hieroglyphs and Greek. A number of Demotic signs were adopted into the Coptic alphabet for sounds for which the Greek alphabet had no signs.
- Early Demotic, used from the 26th Dynasty until the beginning of the Ptolemaic Period.
- Middle Demotic, used during the Ptolemaic Period; at this time religious and funerary texts were also written in Demotic, for example the embalming ritual for the Apis. It was used as an official language alongside Greek.
- Late Demotic, used in the Roman Period; the latest dated text in Demotic is a graffito in Philae from AD 452.