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See more synonyms for symbolic on Thesaurus.com
  1. serving as a symbol of something (often followed by of).
  2. of, relating to, or expressed by a symbol.
  3. characterized by or involving the use of symbols: a highly symbolic poem.
  4. (in semantics, especially formerly) pertaining to a class of words that express only relations.Compare notional(def 7).
  5. Computers. expressed in characters, usually nonnumeric, that require translation before they can be used (opposed to absolute).
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Sometimes sym·bol·i·cal (for defs 1–4).

Origin of symbolic

1650–60; < Late Latin symbolicus < Greek symbolikós. See symbol, -ic
Related formssym·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbsym·bol·i·cal·ness, nounnon·sym·bol·ic, adjectivenon·sym·bol·i·cal, adjectivenon·sym·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·sym·bol·i·cal·ness, nounun·sym·bol·ic, adjectiveun·sym·bol·i·cal, adjectiveun·sym·bol·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for symbolical

allegorical, characteristic, denotative, emblematic, emblematical, figurative, indicative, representative, significant, suggestive, symptomatic, token, typical

Examples from the Web for symbolical

Historical Examples of symbolical

  • It began to be terrible to him, because it seemed to be symbolical.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • This act was symbolical of his giving to her his worldly goods.

  • These various designs no doubt all had some symbolical significance.

  • For the mass of people, knowledge must be symbolical, mythical, dynamic.

  • Possibly the birds were intended to be symbolical of the souls of the faithful.

British Dictionary definitions for symbolical



  1. of or relating to a symbol or symbols
  2. serving as a symbol
  3. characterized by the use of symbols or symbolism
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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 symbolical



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper