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[sim-buh-lahyz] /ˈsɪm bəˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), symbolized, symbolizing.
to be a symbol of; stand for or represent in the manner of a symbol.
to represent by a symbol or symbols.
to regard or treat as symbolic.
verb (used without object), symbolized, symbolizing.
to use symbols.
Also, especially British, symbolise.
Origin of symbolize
From the New Latin word symbolizāre, dating back to 1580-90. See symbol, -ize
Related forms
resymbolize, verb, resymbolized, resymbolizing.
unsymbolized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for symbolise
Historical Examples
  • The practice may symbolise the fertilising influence of rain.

  • To symbolise them, they were as a sword-blade lying beside book.

  • Page xii, "symbolize" changed to "symbolise" for consistency.

    Musical Criticisms Arthur Johnstone
  • The enamel round the ring is black, to symbolise the constancy of her who sends it.

  • What it symbolised, if symbolise anything it did, we know not.

    Evolution in Art Alfred C. Haddon
  • They symbolise, they stand in place of, the primitive image.

    Evolution in Art Alfred C. Haddon
  • They are popularly supposed to symbolise the fate that overtook Marin Faliero.

    Venice and its Story Thomas Okey
  • They sought to actualize what their predecessors tried to symbolise.

    The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura
  • My Struldbrugs are meant to symbolise the immortality of genius.

    Unicorns James Huneker
  • Yet she was not romantic, and her plump person did not in the least symbolise romance.

    Mr. Prohack

    E. Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for symbolise


(transitive) to serve as or be a symbol of
(transitive) usually foll by by. to represent by a symbol or symbols
(intransitive) to use symbols
(transitive) to treat or regard as symbolic or figurative
Derived Forms
symbolization, symbolisation, 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 symbolise



c.1600, "to represent by a symbol," also "to be a symbol of," from French symboliser, from Modern Latin symbolizare, from symbolum (see symbol). Related: Symbolized; symbolizes; symbolizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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