Definition of icon
1 : a usually pictorial representation : image
2 [Late Greek eikōn, from Greek] : a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians
3 : an object of uncritical devotion : idol
5 a : a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning b : a graphic symbol on a computer display screen that represents an object (as a file) or function (as the command to delete)
Examples of icon in a sentence
Click on the icon to open your e-mail program.
He has become an icon in the movie business.
a singer who has become a pop icon
The Statue of Liberty has become an American cultural icon.
Did You Know?
In the Eastern Orthodox church, much importance is given to icons, usually small portraits on wood—sometimes with gold-leaf paint—of Jesus, Mary, or a saint, which hang in churches and in the houses of the faithful. The Orthodox church favors icons partly because they communicate directly and forcefully even to uneducated people. They are regarded as sacred; some believers actually pray to them, and many believe that icons have carried out miracles. The common modern uses of icon grew out of this original sense. The fact that Orthodox icons have a symbolic role led to icon being used to mean simply "symbol". Because of the icon's sacredness, the term also came to mean "idol". And once we began to use idol to refer to pop-culture stars, it wasn't long before we began using icon the same way. But for the little computer-desktop images that you click on, the older meaning of "symbol" is the one we're thinking of.
Variants of icon
Origin and Etymology of icon
Latin, from Greek eikōn, from eikenai to resemble
First Known Use: 1572
Definition of icon-
: image <iconolatry>
Variants of icon-
Origin and Etymology of icon-
Greek eikon-, eikono-, from eikon-, eikōn
ICON Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of icon for English Language Learners
computers : a small picture on a computer screen that represents a program or function
: a person who is very successful and admired
: a widely known symbol
ICON Defined for Kids
Definition of icon for Students
1 : a widely known symbol <The Statue of Liberty has become an icon of freedom.>
2 : a person who is very successful or admired <a pop icon>
3 : a religious image usually painted on a small wooden panel
4 : a small picture or symbol on a computer screen that represents a function that the computer can perform
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up icon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).