ico·​nog·​ra·​phy ˌī-kə-ˈnä-grə-fē How to pronounce iconography (audio)
plural iconographies
: the traditional or conventional images or symbols associated with a subject and especially a religious or legendary subject
: pictorial material relating to or illustrating a subject
: the imagery or symbolism of a work of art, an artist, or a body of art

Did you know?

If you saw a 17th-century painting of a man writing at a desk with a lion at his feet, would you know you were looking at St. Jerome, translator of the Bible, who, according to legend, once pulled a thorn from the paw of a lion, which thereafter became his devoted friend? And if a painting showed a young woman reclining on a bed with a shower of gold descending on her, would you recognize her as Danaë, locked up in a tower to keep her away from the lustful Zeus, who then managed to gain access to her by transforming himself into golden light (or golden coins)? An iconographic approach to art can make museum-going a lot of fun—and amateur iconographers know there are also plenty of symbols lurking in the images that advertisers bombard us with daily.

Examples of iconography in a Sentence

the iconography of the 1960s
Recent Examples on the Web This insults Maine voters’ intelligence and smears the historic iconography of my beloved home state. James Erwin, National Review, 1 July 2024 Related Articles Like the American West, Colorado, Jamaica and New York City, the Hamptons have been part of the Lauren lifestyle and brand iconography for decades. Booth Moore, WWD, 1 July 2024 Super7 has previously launched three series of Dungeons & Dragons action figures based on the iconography of the original role-playing game. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 26 June 2024 According to the House, the tiara is an iconic piece of art deco design, taking inspiration from the Egyptian iconography that reached the nation following the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb the year before. Isaac Bickerstaff, Glamour, 26 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for iconography 

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

Word History


Medieval Latin iconographia, from Greek eikonographia sketch, description, from eikonographein to describe, from eikon- + graphein to write — more at carve

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of iconography was in 1678

Dictionary Entries Near iconography

Cite this Entry

“Iconography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconography. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

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