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variants or less commonly
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
This means that Progressive Web Apps will no longer be able to deliver push notifications with icon badges, something that was introduced last year. David Phelan, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Topping the list: UCLA coaching icon John Wooden, with 620. Jeff Faraudo, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 August 13, 2022 4:00 AM Read Next Business The Idaho Sporting Goods store was a Boise icon. Nick Rosenberger, Idaho Statesman, 15 Feb. 2024 The millennial icon’s day-to-day life is evermore entrenched in adulthood. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Look no further than some of her most recent runway designs, as well as another one of her red lip icons (McGrath is the mastermind behind Taylor Swift’s most recent red lip era). Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 15 Feb. 2024 Dressed in a pair of baggy jeans and a vintage T-shirt emblazoned with the face of Tejano icon Selena, Rapp performed the Lemonade cut in its entirety, even recruiting the audience to sing Beyoncé’s vocal riffs along with her. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 14 Feb. 2024 It’s been 15 years since Broadway and film icon Idina Menzel came up with the idea to develop a musical about a woman living alone in a California redwood tree. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Feb. 2024 The rising style icon commanded attention in a refined outfit. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 13 Feb. 2024 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 29 Feb. 2024.

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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