The word cuneiform means wedge-shaped. Cuneiform writing (describing the way in which the symbols were formed) was found in ancient writings of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia.
The word cuneiform (or 'wedge-shaped') was used for the ancient writings of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. The characters would be usually cut in stone or clay tablets (the latter being baked for preservation).
The name originates from the Latin cuneus which means wedge.
A special stylus would be used to form the characters in soft clay which was then baked to preserve it.
While initially, cuneiform characters were pictographs (representing images to communicate a message), later they developed into phonograms (representing sounds) - a close approximation to a written language.