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variants or less commonly ikon
plural icons also ikons
: a person or thing widely admired especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere
a civil rights icon
an actor and fashion icon
… Purple Rain, the flick that established Prince as a pop icon and cineaste.Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell
That cultural icon, the Nintendo Game Boy, was released in 1989 …Eleanor Flegg
: emblem, symbol
Rosie the Riveter, a WWII [World War II] cultural icon with her blue jumpsuit and red bandana, represented the women who went to work at manufacturing hubs across the nation …David DeBolt
A single photograph, the photograph of Earth taken from space by William Anders, on Apollo 8, in 1968, served as an icon for the entire environmental movement.Jill Lepore
The nation's first President was transformed into an icon, a national symbol whose somewhat forbidding portrait would adorn the dollar bill.John J. O'Connor
: a graphic symbol on a computer display screen that represents an app, an object (such as a file), or a function (such as the command to save)
: a sign (such as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning
archaic : a usually pictorial representation : image
[Late Greek eikōn, from Greek] in Eastern Orthodox Christianity : a representation (as in a mural, a mosaic, or a painting on wood) of sacred events or especially of a sacred individual (such as Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint) used as an object of veneration or a tool for instruction


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combining form

variants or icono-
: image

Examples of icon in a Sentence

Noun 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
An icon, no doubt, but perhaps not inspiration for a particularly edgy beauty look. Marci Robin, Allure, 20 Nov. 2023 In the top corner, check for the Incognito icon (a hat with a pair of glasses) MORE: TAKE BACK YOUR PRIVACY WITH THIS NEW IPHONE SAFETY FEATURE 2. Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, 19 Nov. 2023 Experts originally cautioned that the surge of fans going to extreme measures to see the pop icons perform was keeping inflation stubbornly high. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune Europe, 16 Nov. 2023 The multi-hyphenate icon dishes on her career in music and Hollywood. The California Independent Booksellers Alliance, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 Travis Kelce Had a Bit of a ‘Clue’ Taylor Swift Would Change ‘Karma’ Lyrics but Was ‘Still Shocked’ Some fans pointed out that Kelce may have been referring to physical therapy in his post, but the Swifties agreed that Kelce seems to be the perfect match for their pop icon. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 Given that lack of formal authorization, Priscilla steers clear of Elvis’ own music, and only gestures at his larger presence as a pop icon. Nadine Smith, Pitchfork, 8 Nov. 2023 In a moment of serendipity, J Balvin received the Latin American style icon award that same evening, wearing none other than Willy Chavarria. José Criales-Unzueta, Vogue, 8 Nov. 2023 Yet through it all, the icon is seemingly on the cusp of returning, fellow golfer Stewart Cink shared last week. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'icon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin, from Greek eikōn, from eikenai to resemble

Combining form

Greek eikon-, eikono-, from eikon-, eikōn

First Known Use


1572, in the meaning defined at sense 3c

Time Traveler
The first known use of icon was in 1572

Dictionary Entries Near icon

Cite this Entry

“Icon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/icon. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also ikon
: a religious image usually painted on a small wooden panel
: a pictorial symbol on a computer screen

More from Merriam-Webster on icon

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