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[sim-bol-ik] /sɪmˈbɒl ɪk/
serving as a symbol of something (often followed by of).
of, relating to, or expressed by a symbol.
characterized by or involving the use of symbols:
a highly symbolic poem.
(in semantics, especially formerly) pertaining to a class of words that express only relations.
Compare notional (def 7).
Computers. expressed in characters, usually nonnumeric, that require translation before they can be used (opposed to absolute).
Sometimes, symbolical (for defs 1–4)
Origin of symbolic
1650-60; < Late Latin symbolicus < Greek symbolikós. See symbol, -ic
Related forms
symbolically, adverb
symbolicalness, noun
nonsymbolic, adjective
nonsymbolical, adjective
nonsymbolically, adverb
nonsymbolicalness, noun
unsymbolic, adjective
unsymbolical, adjective
unsymbolically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for symbolical
Historical Examples
  • It began to be terrible to him, because it seemed to be symbolical.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • This act was symbolical of his giving to her his worldly goods.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • These various designs no doubt all had some symbolical significance.

  • For the mass of people, knowledge must be symbolical, mythical, dynamic.

  • Possibly the birds were intended to be symbolical of the souls of the faithful.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • Thirdly, that the cat is symbolical and means something else.

    The History of London Walter Besant
  • It was symbolical; Krishna was its centre, and the rest were wooing him.

    Appearances Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
  • Not for me, reverend Mre; you shall kill no fatted calf, real or symbolical, for me!

    The Golden Dog William Kirby
  • It seems to me that here and there in life we meet with a person or incident that is symbolical.

    The Longest Journey E. M. Forster
  • The shape of his lips was symbolical of his habit of discourse; he was of few words.

    No Clue James Hay
British Dictionary definitions for symbolical


of or relating to a symbol or symbols
serving as a symbol
characterized by the use of symbols or symbolism
Derived Forms
symbolically, adverb
symbolicalness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for symbolical



c.1600 (implied in symbolically); see symbol + -ic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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