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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for symbolises
Historical Examples
  • Prelates wear the purple which symbolises martyrdom: But who on earth has heard lately of the martyrdom of a Cardinal?

  • How perfectly the type, in this respect, then, symbolises sin!

  • Poor Pierrot is exhibited in a state of suspension, as hanging from the inverted letter L (Γ), which symbolises the fatal tree.

  • But I know that this is a form which pleases thee, which symbolises thy nobleness!

    Hypatia Charles Kingsley
  • This symbolises the miraculous relighting of the taper after the devil had extinguished it.

    The Story of Paris Thomas Okey
  • The curtain, which symbolises the sanctuary, still hangs behind the throne, but the gold background is abandoned.

    The Venetian School of Painting Evelyn March Phillipps
  • For the eastern poet he symbolises strength, grace and symmetry.

    Vidyapati Bangiya Padabali Vidyapati Thakura
  • Horn generally symbolises power; here it symbolises a king of peculiar power, Daniel tells us.

  • The weird mediaeval dream of the anti-Christ, drawn from Apocalyptic literature, symbolises this occult possibility.

    Suspended Judgments John Cowper Powys
  • They came from seeing the symbol with the most vivid clarity and being blind to all that it symbolises.

    What I Saw in America G. K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for symbolises


(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 symbolises



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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