Examples of iconic
Examples of iconic
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.
Since the term iconic implies influence and stature, the word has further evolved (some would argue diluted) to mean “significant” or “noteworthy” more generally.
One example of this definition shift comes from YouTube star Emilia Fart. (Yes, 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.
— Ola (@OlaQuinn_) December 19, 2018
Who uses iconic?
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
Iconic also, of course, extends to cultural products, like movies or songs, that have a profound impact on the zeitgeist.
The shooting one of the most iconic moments in movie history, 1997. pic.twitter.com/srVGJpONbt
— Life in Moments (@historyinmoment) December 21, 2018
In the popular lexicon, though, iconic can also refer to something more generally notable, recognizable, memorable, or popular in some way, à la the slang classic.
— 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.
— 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔯 𝔟𝔬𝔶 (@alexcalif) December 22, 2018
desperate housewives is one of the most iconic tv show ever. don't even @ me
— liz (@pizzelisa) 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