- something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
- a letter, figure, or other character or mark or a combination of letters or the like used to designate something: the algebraic symbol x; the chemical symbol Au.
- (especially in semiotics) a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized, as being part of that which is symbolized, and as performing its normal function of standing for or representing that which is symbolized: usually conceived as deriving its meaning chiefly from the structure in which it appears, and generally distinguished from a sign.
- to use symbols; symbolize.
Origin of symbol
Examples from the Web for symbol
We see detoxing as a path to transcendence, a symbol of modern urban virtue and self-transformation through abstinence.How Taryn Toomey’s ‘The Class’ Became New York’s Latest Fitness Craze
January 9, 2015
It is now possible the building can be a symbol for progress.Meet America’s Next Ambassador to Cuba
December 18, 2014
Conservative Muslim women in Turkey hailed Esme as a martyr and a symbol of female strength and resistance.Allah, Mom, and Baklava: Turkish President Uses Mothers and Kids as Political Pawns
November 27, 2014
In Wicca, the female goddess is represented by the Moon, a symbol of Mother Earth and fertility.‘Gods of Suburbia’: Dina Goldstein’s Arresting Photo Series on Religion vs. Consumerism
November 8, 2014
She hoped to fashion them into a necklace, she said, as a symbol of the pain she had endured.Patients Screwed in Spine Surgery ‘Scam’
The Center for Investigative Reporting
November 3, 2014
Here, perchance, may be found a clue in symbol to the family strife.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
He wished to be dressed completely in white, as a symbol of his innocence.
From the symbol of her degradation, she looked to the man whose action had placed it there.Within the Law
But was the "star and crescent" the symbol of the City of Constantine?The Non-Christian Cross
John Denham Parsons
After her departure, I remarked that the symbol was none of the most apt.Chippings With A Chisel (From "Twice Told Tales")
- something that represents or stands for something else, usually by convention or association, esp a material object used to represent something abstract
- an object, person, idea, etc, used in a literary work, film, etc, to stand for or suggest something else with which it is associated either explicitly or in some more subtle way
- a letter, figure, or sign used in mathematics, science, music, etc to represent a quantity, phenomenon, operation, function, etc
- psychoanal the end product, in the form of an object or act, of a conflict in the unconscious between repression processes and the actions and thoughts being repressedthe symbols of dreams
- psychol any mental process that represents some feature of external reality
- (tr) another word for symbolize
Word Origin and History for symbol
early 15c., "creed, summary, religious belief," from Late Latin symbolum "creed, token, mark," from Greek symbolon "token, watchword" (applied c.250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles' Creed, on the notion of the "mark" that distinguishes Christians from pagans), literally "that which is thrown or cast together," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + bole "a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt, beam," from bol-, nominative stem of ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).
The sense evolution in Greek is from "throwing things together" to "contrasting" to "comparing" to "token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine." Hence, "outward sign" of something. The meaning "something which stands for something else" first recorded 1590 (in "Faerie Queene").
- Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.
- A printed or written sign used to represent an operation, an element, a quantity, or a relation, as in mathematics or chemistry.
- A conventional sign.
- A conventional, printed or written figure used to represent an operation, element, quantity, relation, unit of measurement, phenomenon, or descriptor. Also called sign
Idioms and Phrases with symbol
see status symbol.