\ ˈī-ˌkän How to pronounce icon (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
plural icons also ikons

Definition of icon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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
2 : 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
3a : 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
c archaic : a usually pictorial representation : image
4 [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
variants: or icono-

Definition of icon- (Entry 2 of 2)

: image iconolatry

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Synonyms for icon

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The three, exonerated in China, accuse the former Silicon Valley icon of setting them up. BostonGlobe.com, 2 Aug. 2021 The icon has been known for her intoxicating scent amongst celebs for years, so this genderless, highly personal perfume couldn't make more sense for 2021. Taylore Glynn, Marie Claire, 2 Aug. 2021 The music icon recorded Welcome 2 America in 2010 at his famous Paisley Park studio in Minnesota. USA TODAY, 30 July 2021 The publishing company has acquired 46% of the late icon's estate over the last 17 months from three of his six heirs. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 30 July 2021 Below, the icon walks us through 10 of her best beauty moments from the 1960s all the way to today. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, 28 July 2021 New feed by tapping the bell icon at the top of the Home tab in the mobile app. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 26 July 2021 That is Captain America, the U.S. Ryder Cup icon who in 2016 battled Europe's Rory McIlroy head to head at Hazeltine National, each making seemingly miles worth of putts in their Sunday singles instant classic. Brian Stensaas, Star Tribune, 25 July 2021 Notably, 2021 also marks the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Atlanta Games where the late boxing icon Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic cauldron. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, 23 July 2021

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 3c

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

4 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Icon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/icon. Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

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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


\ ˈī-ˌkän \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on icon

Nglish: Translation of icon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of icon for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about icon


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