- 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 symbols
Dead white people were symbols; dead blacks were statistics, unless white people killed them.The Myth of the Central Park Five
October 19, 2014
They are 'other,' newly visible, and symbols of the social and, by extension, economic changes in society and in New York.Is Brooklyn Becoming Unsafe for Gays? It Depends On Which Ones
October 18, 2014
In some cases, armed groups target teachers and schools because they see them as symbols of the government.Stopping the Small Hands of Slavery
October 13, 2014
But man is a symbol-making creature, so what is he to do but make a plan that makes use of these symbols?Thank Goodness We’ve Got A Plan! Let the War Begin!
September 14, 2014
Rwanda and Ethiopia, symbols in the past of death and mayhem, are now among the fastest-growing economies in the world.How I Got Addicted to Africa (and Wrote a Thriller About It)
September 9, 2014
Above his head are the three symbols of the Moon, the Sun, and the planet Venus.The Babylonian Legends of the Creation
But, tonight, he was not seeing these symbols of material superiority.Dust
Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
Knitted, in her own stitches and her own symbols, it will always be as plain to her as the sun.A Tale of Two Cities
These things we have passed by reverently, as symbols of a people's trust in its kind.
Every alternate page was in the phonetic Indian symbols, of which more hereafter.
- 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 symbols
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 symbols
see status symbol.