• synonyms


verb (used with object), sym·bol·ized, sym·bol·iz·ing.
  1. to be a symbol of; stand for or represent in the manner of a symbol.
  2. to represent by a symbol or symbols.
  3. to regard or treat as symbolic.
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verb (used without object), sym·bol·ized, sym·bol·iz·ing.
  1. to use symbols.
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Also especially British, sym·bol·ise.

Origin of symbolize

From the New Latin word symbolizāre, dating back to 1580–90. See symbol, -ize
Related formsre·sym·bol·ize, verb, re·sym·bol·ized, re·sym·bol·iz·ing.un·sym·bol·ized, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for symbolise

Historical Examples

  • The practice may symbolise the fertilising influence of rain.

    The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India

    R. V. Russell

  • To symbolise them, they were as a sword-blade lying beside book.

  • Page xii, "symbolize" changed to "symbolise" for consistency.

    Musical Criticisms

    Arthur Johnstone

  • The enamel round the ring is black, to symbolise the constancy of her who sends it.

  • What it symbolised, if symbolise anything it did, we know not.

    Evolution in Art

    Alfred C. Haddon

British Dictionary definitions for symbolise



  1. (tr) to serve as or be a symbol of
  2. (tr usually foll by by) to represent by a symbol or symbols
  3. (intr) to use symbols
  4. (tr) to treat or regard as symbolic or figurative
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Derived Formssymbolization or symbolisation, 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 symbolise



c.1600, "to represent by a symbol," also "to be a symbol of," from French symboliser, from Modern Latin symbolizare, from symbolum (see symbol). Related: Symbolized; symbolizes; symbolizing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper