em·​blem | \ ˈem-bləm How to pronounce emblem (audio) \

Definition of emblem

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a picture with a motto or set of verses intended as a moral lesson
2 : an object or the figure of an object symbolizing and suggesting another object or an idea
3a : a symbolic object used as a heraldic device
b : a device, symbol, or figure adopted and used as an identifying mark


emblemed; embleming; emblems

Definition of emblem (Entry 2 of 2)

Synonyms for emblem

Synonyms: Noun

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Emblem Has Greek Roots

Both emblem and its synonym symbol trace back to the Greek verb bállein, meaning "to throw." Emblem arose from embállein, meaning "to insert," while symbol comes from symbállein, Greek for "to throw together." Bállein is also an ancestor of the words parable (from parabállein, "to compare"), metabolism (from metabállein, "to change"), and problem (from probállein, "to throw forward"). Another, somewhat surprising, bállein descendant is devil, which comes from Greek diabolos, literally meaning "slanderer." Diabolos in turn comes from diabállein, meaning "to throw across" or "to slander."

Examples of emblem in a Sentence

Noun The flag is the emblem of our nation. He has come to be regarded as an emblem of conservatism.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Montblanc emblem on the cap crown is in mother-of-pearl. Nancy Olson, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Although the Red Cross emblem is not a religious symbol, a red crescent and a red crystal have been added to the organization’s official emblems, acknowledging differing religious, political and cultural beliefs. Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2021 His induction into the Hall of Fame represents, in many ways, the final defining emblem of his playing career, but his life in baseball continues to evolve. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 23 July 2022 Biden is the emblem of calm, the nurturer, the heartfelt voice of concern of the American people. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 19 July 2022 Roscosmos spokesman Dmitry Strugovets said the yellow flight suits symbolize the emblem of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, from which all three cosmonauts graduated. Bloomberg.com, 19 Mar. 2022 Engraved along the side of the case is a representation of the dragon emblem visible on the bow of Eilean, and the whipstitching along the soft leather strap mimics nautical knots. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 27 June 2022 How that pans out goes a fair way in determining the effectiveness of an emblem. Jon Michail, Forbes, 24 June 2022 When flags are deemed no longer a fitting emblem for display, the protocol is to destroy them in a respectful and dignified way, preferably by burning. Hartford Courant, 1 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In 2015, the court held that Texas need not place a Sons of Confederate Veterans emblem on its license plates, despite offering a commemorative program allowing private groups to sponsor tags. Jess Bravin, WSJ, 18 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emblem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of emblem


circa 1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1584, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emblem


borrowed from Middle French & New Latin; Middle French embleme "symbolic image typically accompanied by a motto and a verse exposition (books of which constituted a literary genre in the Renaissance)," borrowed from New Latin emblēmat-, emblēma, going back to Latin, "inlaid pavement, inlaid relief on the inside of a metal bowl or other vessel," borrowed from Greek emblēmat-, émblēma "something inserted (as a shaft into a spearhead), relief ornament decorating silver plate," from emblē-, stem in noun derivation of embállein "to drop or place in, throw into, insert," from em-, variant of en- en- entry 2 before a labial + bállein "to reach by throwing, cast, strike, put, place" — more at devil entry 1

Note: The use of Latin emblēma in reference to a combination of symbolic image and text is apparently owed to the Italian jurist and scholar Andrea Anciato (1492-1550), who gave rise to the emblem book genre with his Emblematum liber (Augsburg, 1531). The semantic gap between the literal meaning of the word and Alciati's use of it has yet to be fully explained. Pace the comments by John F. Moffitt (Andrea Alciati, A Book of Emblems: The Emblematum Liber in Latin and English [Jefferson, NC: 2004], introduction, p. 7), neither Cicero, Quintilian, nor Coelius Rodiginus provide any definite basis for the meaning given emblēma by Alciati.


derivative of emblem entry 1

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Emblem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emblem. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for emblem


em·​blem | \ ˈem-bləm How to pronounce emblem (audio) \

Kids Definition of emblem

: an object or an image used to suggest a thing that cannot be pictured The flag is the emblem of our nation.

Choose the Right Synonym for emblem

emblem, symbol, and token mean a visible thing that stands for something that cannot be pictured. emblem is usually used of an object or a picture that stands for a group such as a family, an organization, or a nation. The eagle is one of our national emblems. symbol may be used of anything that is understood as a sign for something else. The lion is the symbol of courage. token is used of an object or act that shows the existence of something else. This gift is a token of our love.

More from Merriam-Webster on emblem

Nglish: Translation of emblem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emblem for Arabic Speakers


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