• synonyms


See more synonyms for icon on Thesaurus.com
  1. a picture, image, or other representation.
  2. Eastern Church. a representation of some sacred personage, as Christ or a saint or angel, painted usually on a wood surface and venerated itself as sacred.
  3. a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it: an icon of womanhood.
  4. a person or thing that is revered or idolized: Elvis Presley is a cultural icon of the 20th century.
  5. Computers. a picture or symbol that appears on a monitor and is used to represent a command, as a file drawer to represent filing.
  6. Semiotics. a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.
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Also i·kon, ei·kon (for defs 1, 2).

Origin of icon

1565–75; < Latin < Greek eikṓn likeness, image, figure
Can be confusedicon ikon

Synonyms for icon

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2. See image.


  1. a combining form meaning “image,” “likeness,” used in the formation of compound words: iconology.
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Also especially before a vowel, icon-.

Origin of icono-

< Latin < Greek eikono-, combining form of eikṓn icon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for icon

portrait, symbol, figure, idol, picture, portrayal, representation, likeness, ikon

Examples from the Web for icon

Contemporary Examples of icon

Historical Examples of icon

  • Icon well remarks that we are much in the power of our contributors.

  • She crossed herself, kissed the icon, and handed it to Andrew.

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

  • Well, he took that icon home with him for a few days and what did he do?

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

  • This was the icon that had been brought from Smolensk and had since accompanied the army.

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

  • The crowd round the icon suddenly parted and pressed against Pierre.

    War and Peace

    Leo Tolstoy

British Dictionary definitions for icon


  1. Also: ikon a representation of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint, esp one painted in oil on a wooden panel, depicted in a traditional Byzantine style and venerated in the Eastern Church
  2. an image, picture, representation, etc
  3. a person or thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community, or cultural movement
  4. a person regarded as a sex symbol or as a symbol of the latest fashion trends
  5. a pictorial representation of a facility available on a computer system, that enables the facility to be activated by means of a screen cursor rather than by a textual instruction
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Word Origin for icon

C16: from Latin, from Greek eikōn image, from eikenai to be like


before a vowel icon-

combining form
  1. indicating an image or likenessiconology
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Word Origin for icono-

from Greek: icon
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

Word Origin and History for icon


also ikon, 1570s, "image, figure, representation," from Late Latin icon, from Greek eikon "likeness, image, portrait," related to eikenai "be like, look like," of unknown origin. Eastern Church sense is attested from 1833. Computing sense first recorded 1982.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

icon in Science


  1. In a graphical user interface, a picture on the screen that represents a specific file, directory, window, or program. Clicking on an icon will start the associated program or open the associated file, directory, or window.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

icon in Culture


An image used in worship in the Eastern Orthodox Church and among other Christians (see also Christian) of similar traditions. Icons depict Jesus, Mary, and the saints, usually in a severe, symbolic, nonrealistic way.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.