\ˈī-ˌkän \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of icon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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)

b : a sign (such as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning

2 : an object of uncritical devotion : idol

3 : emblem, symbol the house became an icon of 1960's residential architecture— Paul Goldberger

4 [ Late Greek eikōn, from Greek ] : a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians

5 : a usually pictorial representation : image

variants: or icono-

Definition of icon- (Entry 2 of 2)

: image iconolatry

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ginsburg, a lifelong champion of women's rights, has become a cultural icon and is revered and beloved by feminists across America. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized After a Fall," 8 Nov. 2018 Zendaya has become a global icon, using fashion to make bold statements while always staying true to herself. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Tommy Hilfiger Taps Zendaya For Next Design Collaboration," 16 Oct. 2018 Neymar is an incorrigible extrovert, a fashion icon and a marketing phenomenon. Rory Smith, New York Times, "All Eyes Are on Neymar, but It’s Coutinho Who Is Leading Brazil," 28 June 2018 Once a controversial idea, the bridge is now a beloved icon on both sides of the Ohio River. Robert Strickley, Cincinnati.com, "3 headlines: Detective McClane on Roebling, selfies, Hamilton County aka Benjamin Button," 21 June 2018 The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer appeared as a old-school icon throughout the 2006 tour, including a July 27 show in Pittsburgh and a July 29 show in Detroit. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Joan Jett added to lineup of local Warped Tour date," 13 July 2018 For some, the shooting solidified Flynt’s position as a free speech icon, as a martyr for the cause. Cincinnati Enquirer, "Read more from this Project," 13 July 2018 When Reddit launched in 2005, the drawing served as a convenient icon for the site, which was then a place for sharing news links. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "The Transformative Power of Reddit's Alien Mascot," 6 July 2018 The sports division said it will be chaired by former NBA player Stephon Marbury, a basketball icon in Beijing. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "Meet The Chinese Media Tycoon Behind West Hartford's Tech Hub," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'icon.' 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 icon


1572, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for icon


Latin, from Greek eikōn, from eikenai to resemble

Combining form

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

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Statistics for icon

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for icon

The first known use of icon was in 1572

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More Definitions for icon



English Language Learners Definition of icon

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



Kids Definition of icon

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

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Comments on icon

What made you want to look up icon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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