emblem

noun
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

emblem

verb
emblemed; embleming; emblems

Definition of emblem (Entry 2 of 2)

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Emblem Has Greek Roots

Noun

Both "emblem" and its synonym "symbol" trace back to the Greek verb ballein, meaning "to throw." "Emblem" arose from emballein, meaning "to insert," while "symbol" comes from "symballein," Greek for to throw together. "Ballein" is also an ancestor of the words "parable" (from "paraballein," "to compare"), "metabolism" (from "metaballein," "to change"), and "problem" (from "proballein," "to throw forward"). Another (somewhat surprising) "ballein" descendant is "devil," which comes from Greek diabolos, literally meaning "slanderer." "Diabolos" in turn comes from diaballein, 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 sub-90-minute run time isn’t an emblem of concision; the movie simply ends too soon. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "‘Mossville: When Great Trees Fall’ Review: The Material Toxicity of Racism," 7 May 2020 Kimchi is an emblem of fermented foods: The Korean dietary staple contains a rich world of microbes. Kat Eschner, Popular Science, "We finally know which bacteria give kimchi its power," 17 Apr. 2020 Growing in numbers The American Bald Eagle has been the emblem of the United States since 1782. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Active bald eagle nest in Tomball garners attention," 13 Mar. 2020 Her case became an emblem of the debate when her mother was accused of defying a court order to deliver Kylee to state care in order to prevent her from getting a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. oregonlive, "Teen cancer patient Kylee Dixon undergoes successful surgery, report says," 23 Jan. 2020 Perhaps Sambucus was right all those centuries ago: the rat king is always an emblem. Adrian Daub, Longreads, "All Hail the Rat King," 13 Dec. 2019 Reporters molded Ruth into an emblem for all that was good in America. Randy Roberts And Johnny Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Babe Ruth and the Great Influenza Gripped Boston," 30 Apr. 2020 Biden’s campaign didn’t have the organization in place to collect the data, an emblem of his struggling effort in Iowa. Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg.com, "Democrats Promise Iowa Results Tuesday in Bid to Save Caucus," 26 Mar. 2020 The giraffe—an emblem of verticality—is now fully horizontal. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Last Giraffes on Earth," 13 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of emblem

Noun

circa 1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1584, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emblem

Noun

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.

Verb

derivative of emblem entry 1

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Time Traveler for emblem

Time Traveler

The first known use of emblem was in 1584

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Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Emblem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emblem. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for emblem

emblem

noun
How to pronounce emblem (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of emblem

: an object or picture used to suggest a thing that cannot be shown
: a person or thing that represents an idea

emblem

noun
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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on emblem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emblem

Spanish Central: Translation of emblem

Nglish: Translation of emblem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emblem for Arabic Speakers

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