[ sim-buh-list ]

  1. a person who uses symbols or symbolism.

  2. a person versed in the study or interpretation of symbols.

  1. Literature.

    • a writer who seeks to express or evoke emotions, ideas, etc., by stressing the symbolic value of language, to which is ascribed a capacity for communicating otherwise inexpressible visions of reality.

    • (usually initial capital letter) a member of a group of chiefly French and Belgian poets of the latter part of the 19th century who sought to evoke aesthetic emotions by emphasizing the associative character of verbal, often private, images or by using synesthetic devices, as vowel sounds, presumably evocative of color.

  2. Fine Arts.

    • an artist who seeks to symbolize or suggest ideas or emotions by the objects represented, the colors used, etc.

    • (usually initial capital letter) a member of a group of late 19th-century artists who rejected realism and sought to express subjective visions rather than objective reality through the use of evocative images.

  3. (often initial capital letter)Ecclesiastical. a person who rejects the doctrine of transubstantiation and views the Eucharist symbolically.

  4. a person who favors the use of symbols in religious services.

  1. of or relating to symbolists or symbolism.

Origin of symbolist

First recorded in 1575–85; symbol + -ist

Other words from symbolist

  • sym·bol·is·tic, adjective
  • sym·bol·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby symbolist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use symbolist in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for symbolist


/ (ˈsɪmbəlɪst) /

  1. a person who uses or can interpret symbols, esp as a means to revealing aspects of truth and reality

  2. an artist or writer who practises symbolism in his work

  1. (usually capital) a writer associated with the symbolist movement

  2. (often capital) an artist associated with the movement of symbolism

  3. Christian theol a person who rejects any interpretation of the Eucharist that suggests that Christ is really present in it, and who maintains that the bread and wine are only symbols of his body and blood

  1. of, relating to, or characterizing symbolism or symbolists

Derived forms of symbolist

  • symbolistic, adjective
  • symbolistically, adverb

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