[ sim-bol-ik ]
/ sɪmˈbɒl ɪk /


serving as a symbol of something (often followed by of).
of, relating to, or expressed by a symbol.
characterized by or involving the use of symbols: a highly symbolic poem.
(in semantics, especially formerly) pertaining to a class of words that express only relations.Compare notional(def 7).
Computers. expressed in characters, usually nonnumeric, that require translation before they can be used (opposed to absolute).

Nearby words

  1. symbiotic,
  2. symblepharon,
  3. symblepharopterygium,
  4. symbol,
  5. symbol retailer,
  6. symbolic code,
  7. symbolic interactionism,
  8. symbolic language,
  9. symbolic logic,
  10. symbolical books

Sometimes sym·bol·i·cal (for defs 1–4).

Origin of symbolic

1650–60; < Late Latin symbolicus < Greek symbolikós. See symbol, -ic

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for symbolic

British Dictionary definitions for symbolic



/ (sɪmˈbɒlɪk) /


of or relating to a symbol or symbols
serving as a symbol
characterized by the use of symbols or symbolism
Derived Formssymbolically, adverbsymbolicalness, 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

Word Origin and History for symbolic



c.1600 (implied in symbolically); see symbol + -ic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper