Origin of iconic
OTHER WORDS FROM iconici·con·i·cal·ly, adverbi·co·nic·i·ty [ahy-kuh-nis-i-tee], /ˌaɪ kəˈnɪs ɪ ti/, noun
Words nearby iconic
What does iconic mean?
Where does iconic come from?
Iconic, evidenced in the 1650s, originally referred to an icon, an “image” or “portrait,” as in a religious icon.
Zoom ahead to the 1950s, when an icon expanded to refer to someone who’s celebrated for representing a particular cultural phenomenon (as one may have revered a religious icon), e.g., a rock music icon. The adjective iconic expanded with it, as evidenced by at least the 1970s.
We speak of Albert Einstein as an iconic scientist or genius, or Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans as iconic pop artworks. We speak of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an iconic activist, or the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” as an iconic rap song.
One example of this definition shift comes from YouTube star Emilia Fart. In 2018, Fart became, well, something of an icon of feminism and body positivity in the online LGBTQ community. Her videos feature absurdist content meant to make us rethink social norms. She encourages people to be iconic—in her universe, to unabashedly and unforgivingly be one’s strange but fabulous self.
How is iconic used in real life?
Iconic is widely used to describe incredibly successful and influential people who epitomize (and/or ushered in) some significant cultural moment, or who might otherwise be idolized for their actions or talents.
On this day in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in Washington DC. pic.twitter.com/WsObRERKVK
— Norm Kelly (@norm) August 28, 2018
— IANDYCHIRINO ✨ (@iandychirino) December 16, 2018
The shooting one of the most iconic moments in movie history, 1997. pic.twitter.com/srVGJpONbt
— Life in Moments (@historyinmoment) December 21, 2018
— dots (@dots218) December 22, 2018
this one if for the locals. remember in high school when someone said our class of girls looked like a bunch of butch boys so all the girls dressed as boys the next day lmao. iconic.
— 𝔞𝔩𝔢𝔵𝔞𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯 (@alexcalif) December 22, 2018
desperate housewives is one of the most iconic tv show ever. don't even @ me
— Liz (@vanillaniston) December 23, 2018
That said, many might grumble that the term is overused or misused.
Everyone *please* Stop throwing the word "Icon" / "Iconic" around.
You're all using it wrong.
Hardly *Anyone* nowadays is Actually iconic,
— Karl Booton (@karlbooton) June 25, 2015
More examples of iconic:
“The remarkable stories behind 8 of the most iconic war photos ever taken”
—Daniel Brown, Business Insider (headline), December 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use iconic in a sentence
I would hike each morning through Brooklyn, over that borough’s iconic bridge, to Fortune’s offices in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.
Paulson is playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, one of the most iconic villains in movie history.
After reaching an agreement to buy the jeweler, Arnault described it as an “iconic, emblematic brand of America, with a great history,” and said the deal would boost its prospects in Europe and China.Tiffany sues LVMH after $16 billion deal collapses|Rachel King|September 9, 2020|Fortune
Bell Labs, the iconic company that developed the laser, the transistor, and many of the 20th century’s most innovative technologies, offers an example.The race for a COVID-19 vaccine shows the power of ‘community intelligence’|matthewheimer|September 9, 2020|Fortune
Singaporeans have speculated for months about the origins of the mysterious orb floating on the waterfront next to the city’s iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel.Apple’s ‘most ambitious’ new store is a departure from its signature design|claychandler|September 8, 2020|Fortune
Not only had the iconic comedian sexually assaulted many, many women, Maher argued, “I never thought he was funny.”Bill Maher: Hundreds of Millions of Muslims Support Attack on ‘Charlie Hebdo’|Lloyd Grove|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The Guaraldi music is certainly at least 50 percent responsible for A Charlie Brown Christmas becoming as iconic as it has.
In “Sleigh Ride,” the narrator is painting a scene so perfect that it could be featured on an iconic Currier and Ives print.The Most Confusing Christmas Music Lyrics Explained (VIDEO)|Kevin Fallon|December 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Phonetic, made-up lyrics are another venerable tradition of folk music, and “pa-rum-pa-pa-pum” is iconic of the genre.
At Michigan, he would be a formidable recruiter, able to evoke the tradition of his former iconic coach, Bo Schembechler.Is Any College Football Coach Worth $60 Million? Jim Harbaugh Is|Jesse Lawrence|December 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But without some corroborative evidence it is hardly safe to take these as genuine examples of early iconic worship.The Religious Experience of the Roman People|W. Warde Fowler
She is the invariant of each of her iconic Mantrams and her surroundings are the variables that enter and leave the screen.The Gallery|Roger Phillips Graham